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Results: 1 - 100 of 16870
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-10-20 10:05 [p.941]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to take the floor from British Columbia where the sun has not yet risen. I apologize for the darkness.
It is an honour to rise this morning to present a petition from petitioners concerned about Canada's commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The petitioners point out that Canada has existing obligations under other human rights declarations that apply globally. They specifically point out the need to have a piece of legislation in Canada that brings the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into legal effect in this country, and to update our legislation to reflect Canada's obligations to enforce the rights of indigenous peoples in multiple situations. They specify the Wet'suwet'en territory and the conduct of the RCMP.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2020-10-20 10:05 [p.941]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a petition signed by over 58,000 Canadians who are calling on the Liberal government to repeal its order in council.
On May 1 of this year, with the stroke of a pen, overnight, the Liberals, with their order in council, made hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens criminals. It had a catastrophic impact on sporting goods owners, like K.K.S Tactical Supplies and Cassandra Parker in my riding who, overnight, faced catastrophic losses to their business because of the inventory they had that they could no longer sell. It had no value.
I hope that the Liberals will see their way to repeal this order in council. If not, a new elected Conservative government will do so.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I want to remind hon. members to be as concise as possible and to not go into a discourse. That is for debate.
The hon. member for Montarville.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2020-10-20 10:06 [p.941]
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(6), it is my pleasure to present a petition signed by 1,745 individuals, most of them residents of Montreal's South Shore.
The petition states that the former Saint-Bruno firing range is a National Defence site measuring 4.5 km2. It has not been used for some time, it is in the process of being transferred, it is locked and monitored, and all recreational activities that used to take place there have been suspended. The site has mountain bike, cross-country ski and snowshoe trails that were established and groomed by volunteers in such a way as to respect protected areas set aside for the preservation of rare and endangered species. It also has soccer fields, which means it has tremendous recreational and tourism potential for the greater Montreal region. The petitioners are asking the Minister of National Defence to act quickly to transfer the site to a Quebec organization such as SÉPAQ or to a regional or municipal authority in order to protect it from real estate development and restore access to citizens for recreational purposes while respecting areas reserved for the preservation of protected species.
View Kate Young Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kate Young Profile
2020-10-20 10:08 [p.941]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition to Parliament that speaks to the sexual exploitation of children. The petition draws attention to this growing threat. It says that our children are being exposed to pornography online, their health can be threatened, with some addicted to pornography, some producing and distributing pornography, some performing sexual assaults on other children, some planning suicides online and some planning violent acts to public safety online. The petition says that our parents, caregivers and professionals require increased education, and that the Government of Canada should support the efforts of the federal Canadian charity Internet Sense First and its anti-Internet child exploitation team's goal of the education of Canadians regarding the theory of digital supervision for proactive online child protection.
View Kyle Seeback Profile
CPC (ON)
View Kyle Seeback Profile
2020-10-20 10:09 [p.942]
Mr. Speaker, the Black Horse community which is part of the town of Caledon in my riding of Dufferin—Caledon, is terribly underserved by rural broadband. Many studies have been conducted to show that upload speeds and download speeds are exceptionally poor. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, with businesses operating from home and children having to do some of their schooling at home, they call on the Government of Canada to make broadband Internet service an essential telecommunications service.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-10-20 10:09 [p.942]
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today. The first is from members of my riding who were very concerned when the House of Commons was shut down. They indicated that the House of Commons should be considered an essential service to Canada. They said that limiting the business of the House of Commons, along with matters concerning the COVID pandemic, inhibited the ability of members of Parliament to hold the government to account, virtual meetings were insufficient, the Prime Minister's daily press availability was not an effective forum for holding him accountable and unprecedented levels of public spending were hurried.
A return to normal in-person sittings of the House of Commons and its standing committees is needed. This took place during the months prior to the actual prorogation by the Prime Minister. The 13,346 petitioners call upon the Prime Minister to immediately reconvene the House of Commons.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-10-20 10:11 [p.942]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in regard to sex-selective abortion. It indicates that sex-selective abortion is legal in Canada because there are no laws, yet sex selection is antithetical to equality between men and women that we promote as a nation. A 2019 DART & Maru/Blue poll indicated 84% of Canadians believe that it should be illegal to have an abortion if a family does not want a child because of its sex. International organizations including the World Health Organization, United Nations Women and United Nations Children's Fund have all identified unequal sex ratios at birth as a growing problem internationally. Canada's own health care professionals recognize sex selection as a problem here. The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to pass a Criminal Code prohibition of sex selection abortion.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 10:11 [p.942]
Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand at this time.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-10-20 10:12 [p.942]
Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
CPC (ON)
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-10-20 10:13 [p.942]
moved:
That the House:
(a) note that the WE Charity scandal has preoccupied Parliament since the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) was announced on June 25, 2020, and despite many meetings on this topic held by several of the standing committees of the House of Commons in the subsequent weeks, the outstanding and unanswered questions only became more numerous and increasingly serious;
(b) further note that several other scandals and potential scandals have come to light more recently in the context of government expenditures related to the COVID-19 pandemic response, including, but not limited to,
(i) the awarding of contracts to the employer of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff’s spouse to administer the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program,
(ii) allegations of lobbying by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff’s spouse to secure amendments to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program (CEWS) which would benefit his employer,
(iii) the acquisition of ventilators, which did not have regulatory approval for use, manufactured by a company owned by a retired Liberal member of the House of Commons;
(c) acknowledge that the Prime Minister’s abrupt decision to prorogue Parliament intensified the need for parliamentary accountability;
(d) believe that, to ensure that the work required to achieve this accountability does not interfere with the ordinary operations of the House’s network of committees, a special committee with a dedicated mandate should be established; and
(e) therefore appoint a special committee on anti-corruption, to be styled: The Anti-Corruption Committee, with the mandate to examine and review,
(i) all aspects of the CSSG, including its conceptualization, planning, development, establishment, implementation and termination,
(ii) the assorted relationships between WE Charity, including any of its affiliated or related organizations and the Kielburger family, on the one part, and the government and ministers of the Crown and their families, on the other part,
(iii) all aspects of the CECRA program, including its planning, development, establishment and implementation,
(iv) all aspects related to the allegations of lobbying by Rob Silver or MCAP for amendments to the Income Tax Act in respect of the CEWS program,
(v) all aspects related to the acquisition, purchase and regulatory approval of ventilators manufactured by, or otherwise associated with, the Baylis Medical Company,
(vi) any other matter connected to the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response measures that any standing committee of the House may request the committee to investigate,
provided that,
(vii) the committee be composed of 15 members, of which six shall be government members, five shall be from the official opposition, two shall be from the Bloc Québécois and two shall be from the New Democratic Party,
(viii) the members shall be named by their respective whip by depositing with the Clerk of the House the list of their members to serve on the committee no later than the day following the adoption of this order,
(ix) the Clerk of the House shall convene an organization meeting of the said committee within five days of the adoption of this order,
(x) changes in the membership of the committee shall be effective immediately after notification by the whip has been filed with the Clerk of the House,
(xi) membership substitutions be permitted, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2),
(xii) notwithstanding Standing Order 106(2), the committee be chaired by a member of the official opposition, and in addition to the Chair, the first vice-chair shall be from the Bloc Québécois, the second vice-chair shall be from the New Democratic Party, and the third vice-chair shall be from the government party,
(xiii) quorum of the committee be as provided for in Standing Order 118 and that the Chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to have evidence printed when a quorum is not present, provided that at least four members are present, including one member of the opposition and one member of the government,
(xiv) the committee be granted all of the powers of a standing committee, as provided in the Standing Orders,
(xv) the provisions of Standing Order 106(4) shall extend to the committee,
(xvi) the committee and any of its subcommittees have the power to authorize video and audio broadcasting of any or all of its proceedings,
(xvii) the provisions of paragraph (o) of the order adopted on September 23, 2020, shall apply to the committee and any of its subcommittees until January 29, 2021, provided that the meetings of the committee and any of its subcommittees shall have the first claim to the priority use of House resources available for committees,
(xviii) the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth may be ordered to appear as witnesses from time to time, as the committee sees fit,
(xix) the committee be instructed to present an interim report no later than February 15, 2021,
(xx) the committee’s initial work shall be supported by orders of the House issuing for
(A) the unredacted version of all documents produced by the government in response to the July 7, 2020, order of the Standing Committee on Finance, provided that these records shall be filed directly with the Clerk of the House either electronically or in hardcopy within 24 hours of the adoption of this order and, in turn, transmitted to the committee which shall, until it may decide otherwise, consider them in camera,
(B) a copy of all records at Speakers’ Spotlight pertaining to speaking appearances arranged, since October 14, 2008, for the current Prime Minister, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Margaret Trudeau and Alexandre Trudeau, including, in respect of each speaking appearance, an indication of the fee provided, any expenses that were reimbursed and the name of the company, organization, person or entity booking it, which had been originally ordered to be produced on July 22, 2020, by the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, provided that these records shall be filed directly with the Clerk of the House either electronically or in hardcopy within 24 hours of the adoption of this order and, in turn, transmitted to the committee which shall, until it may decide otherwise, consider them in camera,
(C) all memoranda, e-mails, documents, notes or other records from the Office of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council Office, since June 25, 2020, concerning options, plans and preparations for the prorogation of Parliament, including polling and public opinion research, provided that these documents shall be laid upon the table within 10 days of the adoption of this order and, upon tabling, shall stand referred to the committee and to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs,
(D) a complete accounting of all communications between the government and any of WE Charity (or its affiliated organizations), Craig Kielburger, Marc Kielburger, Speakers’ Spotlight, Rob Silver, MCAP, Frank Baylis or Baylis Medical Company since June 25, 2020, in respect of the prorogation of Parliament, provided that these documents shall be laid upon the table within 10 days of the adoption of this order and, upon tabling, shall stand referred to the committee and to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.
We are here this morning for accountability. As public officials, all parties, including the government, should re-evaluate their reason for being in this Parliament. Public service is deeply important to me. That service is rooted in respect for all Canadians, love of country and deep respect for parliamentary democracy.
I have high expectations of my colleagues because I have high expectations of myself. I believe in this country and the nobility of serving it.
To whom much is given, much is expected. Ultimately, it boils down to trust. Public officials should garner the trust of Canadians, not erode it.
There is no question that this government has been incompetent for several years now, as evidenced by its mismanagement.
Our party has uncovered a trove of compromising information in this WE scandal affair, a pattern that started to arise involving Liberal insiders and the Prime Minister's family.
A charitable organization, WE, became an extension of the Liberal Party, but worse yet, it soon became clear that the more WE paid members of the Trudeau family, the more the Liberal government rewarded WE. That connection undermines the trust of Canadians.
The opposition must stand up for Canadians. There is concern about corruption, in some cases with the highest offices in the land and with the Prime Minister, who has already been found twice to have violated public ethics rules. The WE Charity, we know, secretly lobbied the Liberal government dozens of times in the past, including during the pandemic, and never registered to do so. That is just further proof that the Canada student service grant program was never truly about the students.
The Ethics Commissioner is investigating. The lobbying commissioner is investigating. The official languages commissioner is investigating. The procurement ombudsman is investigating. We are running out of agencies to investigate the government's conduct. These are valid questions we have that we bring today.
I want to share, for a moment, a lesson I learned from my air force time, talking to some of our incredible World War II bomber command veterans. They had a rule of thumb. They said that when they were navigating night bombing missions and they started getting lots of fire from below, when they started getting flak, it meant they were over their target.
We are getting a lot of flak for this motion. That is because Canadians know we are over the target and we should keep asking questions. We will hold the Prime Minister and his government accountable, as it is our parliamentary function.
We know that when the Prime Minister took office, WE Charity had already begun paying members of his family. Over the past five years, those payments have totalled more than half a billion dollars.
The WE Charity was awarded multiple sole-source contracts over the past five years, well before it worked directly with Bill Morneau to come up with the Canada student service grant. We know that the WE Charity employed a member of former finance minister Morneau's family, and that his family went on two luxury vacations paid for by the WE Charity. We also know that the Prime Minister, Mr. Morneau and several officials and ministers in the current government turned around and handed to their friends a WE management contract of a billion dollars under the guise of supporting youth programming during the pandemic: youth programming that never came to fruition.
The Liberals must immediately stop this cover up, release the documents, tell Canadians the truth and let Parliament do its job. If the documents do not contain anything incriminating, there is no reason for the Liberals to spend so much time and resources hiding them. We are still wondering how much we do not know.
We have already seen that flak firing up from below. The Prime Minister is throwing all of his heavy artillery at us because we are over the target. Prorogation, resignation, filibusters, delays, political games and threatening elections are all just to ask us to stop asking to remove the blacking out of documents and asking for transparency. The Liberals were willing to shut down Parliament in a pandemic after it had already been shut down for months while emergency programs for the country, like the CERB, were expiring. They were willing to put all those Canadians to the side in order to stop a few tough questions from the MP for Carleton. Canadians should wonder why. Now the Liberals are threatening an election in the middle of a pandemic to avoid these secrets coming out.
When the government got caught, it tried to hide. It answered with talking points. It turned over redacted documents. It filibustered at committee. Then it shut down Parliament.
Today, I am introducing the Conservative opposition day motion. We are making a modest proposal to establish a committee to look into various ethical questions and problems with the government's handing out of COVID-19 funding to insiders and friends. It is a committee that would examine the misuse and potential breach of trust during the worst crisis Canadians have experienced in their lifetimes. The committee would examine the Canada student service grant, as well as the relationship between WE, the Liberal government and members of family; lobbying efforts for income tax changes, particularly with respect to the Canada emergency wage program; the acquisition, purchase and approval of Baylis Medical Company ventilators, and I know the name “Baylis” is pretty well known in this chamber; and, of course, topics the other parties will identify specifically for this committee.
The committee's initial work would be supported by the disclosure of documents, which this government continues to delay and avoid. The committee would simplify multiple committees into one special committee with a specific mandate to allow finance, health and other committees to do their work.
It is time to put our house back in order and rebuild Canadians' trust. This is the primary duty of any government managing a crisis. We must unite Canadians and put an end to the double standard, with one set of rules for the Liberals' friends and another set for everyone else.
The motion would also be amended today to make clear that the appointment of a special committee to look into the use of public funds by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic shall not constitute legitimate grounds for a general election. We would be changing the name of the committee based on some advice from the New Democratic Party, and we would be challenging all members, including the deputy House leader of the Liberal Party who is shrugging and guffawing at my remarks. I would remind him of his public duty to Canadians. I would remind him that to whom much is given, much is expected. Canadians expect the truth.
Can that member handle the truth? Canadians also deserve accountability, and that is exactly what this committee would do.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 10:23 [p.945]
Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Conservative Party says that we need to re-evaluate why we are here. I think he is right: We do need to re-evaluate why we are here.
Canadians, in the last election, put together a minority government, and they expect the opposition parties to work with government. All parties need to work together, and the focus of our attention should be on doing what we can to fight coronavirus and the pandemic, just like other jurisdictions across the land are doing. From non-profits, to government agencies and private people, they understand and appreciate the importance of the pandemic and us as a government working together.
My question to the leader of the official opposition is this. Why does he not recognize that the value of being part of the official opposition means that one comes up with ideas of how we can work for the betterment of Canadians?
View Erin O'Toole Profile
CPC (ON)
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-10-20 10:24 [p.945]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the deputy House leader from the Liberal Party for his indignation this morning and remind him that our party, particularly our health critic, has been asking questions on COVID-19 and the absence of rapid health testing in this country. Canada is the only major OECD country without rapid health testing, which is a failure of this government. We are more than happy to explore the failures of this government, but we would need to extend sitting times in Parliament.
We are going to study and fight the coronavirus, but we are also going to study, at committee, the Liberal corruption virus.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2020-10-20 10:25 [p.945]
Mr. Speaker, as we know, WE Charity really had no French arm or French name. A literal translation into French would be “nous, charité” or “we, charity”. It reminds me of the expression “charity begins at home”. In this case, I have to say that it certainly applies to both the organization and the Liberal government.
The government has been telling us that we are in the midst of a pandemic and that this is not the time to be discussing corruption. When the government spends billions of dollars, is it not the right time to deal with this issue? It should not threaten Parliament with an election just because we are simply calling for transparency on the government's part.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
CPC (ON)
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-10-20 10:26 [p.945]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.
He is right. The Commissioner of Official Languages is concerned about this scandal. That is why we need a committee to address all aspects of the scandal, namely official languages, health, spending and ethics. That is why we will have this debate today. That is why Canadians need the truth, accountability and answers to reasonable questions.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-10-20 10:27 [p.945]
Mr. Speaker, one of the great concerns that we have had with this situation is that in March we were plunged into an unprecedented crisis. We were all told that we could work together, and I think this Parliament did some extraordinary work together.
At issue is the Prime Minister making a promise on April 8 to university students who were suffering massive levels of student debt, high tuition costs and complete uncertainty. He promised to have a plan in place for university students. That was on April 8.
On April 17, the minister of youth and diversity had a secret meeting with Craig Kielburger and misrepresented those facts to our committees, both at finance and ethics. Out of that we are in this scandal, and the Liberals continue to try and block straightforward answers.
How long does my hon. colleague think the Liberals will carry on with this blockage of answers that the Canadian people deserve?
View Erin O'Toole Profile
CPC (ON)
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-10-20 10:28 [p.946]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay is right. In March we did work all together. In fact, I had calls with several ministers recommending solutions. I was in a leadership race that I asked to be suspended. I know his party, and all parties, tried to get solutions for Canadians in the midst of a pandemic. We know the Prime Minister promised testing and tracing in March that has not been delivered. As the member said, on April 8, the government promised students something that was not delivered, and then worked with its friends to create a program that appeared to be quid pro quo in the midst of a pandemic.
I am sure the member agrees. We hope the NDP will work with us because we are changing the name of the committee based on its recommendation. We have many of the same questions he had. What was terrible was even in a pandemic with no Parliament sitting, there was one line for Liberal insiders and friends of the Prime Minister, and one line for students, front-line health care workers and all other Canadians.
This motion is not about an election: It is about accountability. We ask the government to stop playing games.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-10-20 10:29 [p.946]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the very important topic of our work here in the House of Commons, which we do proudly and diligently for the good of Canada and Canadians.
Our objective today is to enable all parliamentary committees to continue their meaningful work of oversight during the pandemic and to create a committee that will directly address the current government's unfortunate and irresponsible spending decisions during the pandemic and other decisions that may unfortunately be made. This is why we are here today.
The leader of the official opposition moved this motion, but traditionally, the Leader of the Opposition does not move motions on supply days. MPs are generally the ones who do so. However, our leader decided to move this motion because this is an important matter and Canadians need representatives in Parliament who do their jobs and who can oversee the government's actions, department by department, in parliamentary committees and in the House.
We want to hold the government accountable for its management of public money during the pandemic. Unfortunately, this government has made some highly improper and wrongful spending decisions.
The Prime Minister was very excited about playing Santa Claus, as he gave his little daily updates at 11:15 a.m. in May, June and even July, outside his residence. He announced hundreds of millions of dollars, billions even, in assistance to anything in Canada that moved.
What else did we see? We saw that the Liberal government was also prepared to spend nearly $1 billion to help Liberal Party cronies and friends of the Prime Minister's family.
This is what we are talking about this morning. We are talking about the misjudgment of the government when it comes to spending money. It spent nearly $1 billion to help a company close to the Liberal Party and close to the family of the Prime Minister.
Nearly $900 million was involved in the WE Charity scandal. As was mentioned earlier, that organization had no roots in Quebec and barely had a made-up French name. It was the furthest thing from a Canada-wide organization. It was exclusive to English Canada, if not to Toronto, if not to the Liberals.
Through the questions we asked at parliamentary committees, we managed to pull the cat out of the bag and quickly realized that the Liberals were in fact trying help the friends of the Prime Minister's family. I cannot use the word “lie” in the House, but the Liberal version of events underwent a series of changes, which we will politely call an evolution.
First we were told that there was absolutely no connection between WE Charity and the Liberal Party, and that the Prime Minister's family had never been hired by this organization, but that is totally false. Then we were told they were paid only for travel expenses, but that is completely false. Just yesterday, we found out that some of the figures reported by WE Charity at the committee meetings did not line up with the truth. That is why we must have a committee that will focus specifically on the Liberals' mismanagement of public finances. The situation with WE Charity was not unique.
What future does the government have in store for us?
If the past is any indication, we parliamentarians must be especially vigilant to make sure that the billions of dollars Canadians pay every year in taxes to the federal government are well managed. That is our job. It is funny: We are here to ask Parliament for permission to do our job.
The Conservatives are here to tell the government and Parliament that we want to do our job. We need to do our job; we have to do our job. This is why we are here today. We are asking the government to allow all parliamentarians do their job. When I say that, I am also talking about the Liberal members of Parliament. They also have questions to ask of the government, because unfortunately what we saw this summer was a government saying one thing and then, after being asked more questions, saying sorry that it forgot about other things.
Let us talk about Bill Morneau, who forgot to pay $41,000. Who could believe that? I can tell members that I would always have in mind that I owe more than $40,000. This is what we have seen.
We saw the Minister of Finance resign. We saw the Prime Minister prorogue the House to prevent parliamentarians from doing their job. We saw the government table 5,000 pages of documents, a full quarter of them redacted. This is not what Canadians want, and that is why we must conduct this valid investigation, which is key to our work as parliamentarians.
In our opinion, it is essential that ethics be at the heart of what we do, and that public funds be spent appropriately. What do we have on the table today? We have a motion that will allow us to focus exclusively on managing these issues so that other committees can work on the pandemic and the House can do what it is meant to do. The oral question period always starts with questions about the pandemic, and that is how it should be. However, a committee would allow us to precisely manage that pandemic.
We introduced this motion on the Order Paper, as is the custom, last Thursday. Now all parliamentarians are aware of our goals, our intentions and what we want to do. Then, the Liberal government came along with a strange proposal, to say the least. They want to create a committee that will do the bare minimum in certain areas to avoid directly addressing the root of the problem.
The government would like the committee to be chaired by a member of the government. I have considerable respect for all of my friends in Parliament, whether they be Liberal, Bloc Québécois, New Democrat, Green, independent or Conservative. In the past year, we have seen how the Liberals are working on behalf of the Liberal Party rather than for the good of all Canadians.
A few weeks ago, the House and the committees began sitting virtually. The Standing Committee on Finance was one of them. We saw the committee’s Liberal chair try to suspend the committee’s work by placing his thumb on his webcam. I have never seen anything so ridiculous in my life. I have considerable respect for that person. I will not name him because I have too much respect for him.
Good gracious, that is what is going on in our committees now. The Liberals are filibustering and reading newspaper articles to prevent us from having real parliamentary committee debates. A chair put his thumb in front of his webcam to put an end to the sitting. Just imagine if I tried to put my thumb in front of the camera to adjourn the House. It is ridiculous, but that is what the Liberals did to prevent the hon. member from Carleton from doing what he was supposed to be doing in the parliamentary committee.
Let us be serious. Rather than conduct a careful study, the Liberal government is proposing that this be done in four weeks. Four weeks is not enough. Arbitrary suspensions, obstruction, adjournments and cancelled meetings, that is what the Liberals have served up.
For the past two days, the Liberals have been hinting that if this motion is adopted, the government could trigger a general election. How irresponsible. How absolutely outrageous.
I am sorry to say that, but when we talk about an election we talk about serious business. It is not the time to to play chicken on this issue, even if the House of Commons is the best place to talk about that. “Some chicken, some neck,” as we heard on December 30, 1941, here in the House of Commons.
This is certainly not something we can take lightly. It would be absolutely outrageous to trigger a general election in the middle of a pandemic. What would be the reason for it?
As far as management of public funds is concerned, the Liberals are prepared to trigger an election to prevent parliamentarians from doing their work. That way of thinking is unworthy of a parliamentarian, but it is typical of the Liberals. The Liberals prorogued the House, and they are preventing parliamentarians from doing their work in committee. What they are proposing makes no sense.
Since we are listening to our colleagues' recommendations, I move, seconded by the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord:
That the motion be amended in paragraph (e),
(a) by replacing the words before subparagraph (i) with the following: “therefore appoint a special committee on allegations of misuse of public funds by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, with the mandate to examine and review”; and
(b) by adding the following: “, (xxi) the establishment of the committee shall not, in the opinion of the House, constitute legitimate grounds for calling a general election”.
Should this amendment and the proposal we are submitting today in the House be passed by the majority, Canadians will get their money's worth, since we will be able to investigate the Liberal government's management of public funds while continuing our everyday work for the good of all Canadians.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-10-20 10:40 [p.947]
First, it is my duty to inform hon. members that an amendment to an opposition motion may be moved only with the consent of the sponsor of the motion.
Therefore, I ask the hon. member for Durham if he consents to this amendment being moved?
View Erin O'Toole Profile
CPC (ON)
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-10-20 10:40 [p.947]
Mr. Speaker, I do.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-10-20 10:41 [p.948]
Questions and comments, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 10:41 [p.948]
Mr. Speaker, since 2015, there is something the official opposition has been doing consistently. They are constantly looking for an area of mischief where they can assassinate the character of the government. As I have said before, character assassination is something they do well. They will look for and nail down an issue, putting it ahead of any other issue. We have seen that. They talk about filibusters, but I can tell members that no party filibusters more than the official opposition.
Reflecting on what his leader said about why we are here, does the member feel there is an obligation on the official opposition to be more positive regarding ideas on how we can combat the coronavirus pandemic? That is what Canadians want us to be focused on.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-10-20 10:42 [p.948]
Mr. Speaker, I want to pay my respects to the hon. member, because as everyone knows, we are celebrating the five-year anniversary, plus one day, of the 2015 election.
Since I have been in the House of Commons, I have never seen a government so corrupt. Has anyone seen a prime minister under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner and found guilty not one time but two times? Members should watch out. He will be accused again for a third time a few weeks from now.
View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like us to take a moment to look back.
What has happened over the past few months? A specific committee was created to investigate what went on with WE Charity, and it was making good progress. We had many pieces of the puzzle, but some were missing. Everyone agreed that we had to get all the way to the bottom of things.
Then what happened? We did not complete our work. Now we are proposing a solution that will enable us to keep addressing the effects of the pandemic while doing our work in the House in a responsible manner, because it is up to us to lead by example.
Why is there now a lack of interest in shedding light on what happened?
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-10-20 10:44 [p.948]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her remarks. I know a few people in her riding, so I know that she plays a very active role there, and I thank her for that, too. We are all working to improve the lives of Canadians and, in my colleague's case, Quebeckers.
We are here to do our job and, as parliamentarians, that job is to hold this government to account. We have to make sure that government members manage public funds properly. Unfortunately, as we have seen in recent weeks and months, they believe public money should be used to help families and groups with ties to the Liberal Party.
The hon. member for Durham and leader of the official opposition was absolutely right when he said earlier that we are here to fight the coronavirus as well as the Liberal corruption virus.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his passionate speech.
The NDP has always been in favour of getting to the bottom of the WE Charity scandal. We have a duty and responsibility as parliamentarians to scrutinize the government's spending and ethics.
The Liberals are so addled that during a recent filibuster in committee, a Liberal member said that only the Ethics Commissioner had the power to determine who is considered the Prime Minister's mother and brother. The Liberals were trying so hard to hide the truth that they were disputing the definition of family members and hiding behind the Ethics Commissioner's supposed authority to define who is considered a mother and brother of the Prime Minister.
I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on this. How mixed up are the Liberals, and how hard are they trying to obfuscate this issue?
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-10-20 10:45 [p.948]
Mr. Speaker, first, I want to thank my NDP colleague. I knew that the Liberals were doing everything they could to obstruct the work of the committees, but I did not know that they had stooped to such ludicrous depths. Honestly. I think that everyone knows who the Prime Minister's father, mother and brother are. We do not need the Ethics Commissioner to tell us that. It just shows how completely out of touch the Liberals are with the reality right in front of them.
I am pleased to see that all the opposition parties seem to have the exact same position as we do. We want to investigate. The one does not impede the other. The parliamentary committees will do their job. During question period, we will do our job. We will do our job as parliamentarians by studying bills and asking the government questions about the pandemic every day. We are also responsible for checking the facts, and that is why the opposition parties are proposing to set up a committee that will focus on this government's mismanagement of public funds.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 10:47 [p.948]
Mr. Speaker, to start things off, I will list a number of points that are important as we continue to debate this today.
First, it is important to recognize that the government does consider this to be a matter of confidence, because the House cannot establish a committee looking into government corruption and, at the same time, claim it still has confidence in the government. Additionally, the motion is nothing more than a blatant partisan proposal that seeks to paralyze the government at a time when the entire government should be focused on keeping Canadians safe and healthy during this second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Second, we cannot have committees finding public servants in contempt without even providing them the opportunity to explain why they made lawful redactions to a small number of items within more than 5,000 documents released to the finance committee.
Third, we cannot turn our committees into partisan tools to force private citizens to release personal financial information. Where would that end?
Fourth, we cannot have Conservatives drowning the government in requests for documents and arbitrary deadlines that are designed to be impossible to meet, forcing public servants to drop their work on supporting Canadians during this pandemic.
Fifth, the Conservative motion is just proposing more political games. It is not a serious effort to examine all the areas of pandemic spending.
Sixth, Canadians want their politicians to work together in this pandemic, not throw mud at each other.
Seventh, we have proposed a path forward for this Parliament with a serious committee that will do serious work.
Eighth, we do not want an election. Canadians do not want an election. We have important legislation before the House, including MAID, conversion therapy and sexual assault training for judges, and legislation upcoming on wage subsidy, rent support and the Canada emergency business account.
Finally, I would hope all parties will work with us in support of Canadians.
I wanted to highlight these items, prior to my responding to some of the things I have heard from both the leader of the Conservative Party and the Conservative opposition House leader, because I think they are really important.
To start, the leader says we need to evaluate why we are here in the first place. I would suggest the leader is right. We are here in this House because Canadians have bestowed upon us their trust and confidence. When I say “we”, I am referring to every member of Parliament, no matter what side of the House they sit on. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to our constituents.
If the Conservatives were to consult, as we have been and as, I believe, most members of Parliament have been with their constituents, they would find the number one concern facing our country today is the coronavirus. What we can do collectively in order to fight the coronavirus and protect the health and well-being of Canadians, while at the same time protecting our economy, is the priority in Canada today.
What we hear, day in and day out, from the Conservative Party is the issue with WE. Opposition members want to say it is this huge mountain of corruption. I have been in opposition for many years, and boy they sure can make something look awfully big. I would suggest that, in comparison with other administrations, it is very minimal. It is something a committee could deal with along with all the other things that are done at the House of Commons.
The leader of the Conservative Party said to reflect. I suggest that Conservative members of Parliament need to realize that the track they took in 2015 of character assassinations of politicians on the government side is wrong. I suggest that they put that on hold and start dealing with what our constituents want us to deal with, and that is fighting the pandemic.
What is interesting is that, whether they are in non-profit organizations or governments of different levels, indigenous people or private individuals, people across our country not only recognize but also understand the importance of working together. The only group of people that seems to be so focused on being a destructive force is the Conservative Party of Canada.
For example, its members talk about WE. The leader said WE is an extension of the Liberal Party. Let me tell the leader of the Conservative Party that the WE organization got an annual grant from the Manitoba government. The last time I looked, the Manitoba government was a Progressive Conservative government. That was an annual grant. That is hard to believe based on what the leader of the Conservative party has been saying.
My job is not defend WE. My job is to assure Canadians that, as much as the Conservative Party is so bloody focused on this issue, we are going to remain focused on the priority of Canadians, which is to combat the pandemic. We will work with those who want to work with us, and the list is endless, to ensure we are doing what is absolutely essential to protect the health and well-being of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, while at the same time working on our economy.
I have made reference in the past to what we have been able to do by working with Canadians. We have come up with some wonderful things out of nothing. On the other hand, the Conservatives criticize and black-mark our civil servants, yet it was those civil servants who put together and created the CERB program, which assisted millions of Canadians in every region of our country. It is the credibility of many of those same civil servants that is being called into question by the Conservatives.
In part, they are the same civil servants who put together programs such as the wage subsidy program. By listening to what members of Parliament from different political parties said, including many people from opposition parties, regarding the importance of our seniors, they developed programs that would assist our seniors. We have done that in different ways, such as a one-time payment to the GIS and OAS, which are retirement programs. I am especially proud of the GIS, which is for the poorest seniors in our country. We recognize the importance of and the need for additional expenditures.
This is the type of thing we should be talking about inside the House of Commons. The Conservatives want to make a change here. I hope they are not going to hoodwink our friends in the New Democratic Party, who have been very critical of the many government ideas and programs we have brought forward. I will not take that away from them. That is part of what they and the Conservatives should be doing as the opposition, which is to look for ways the government can improve the system and take advantage of the opportunity to communicate with ministers during a pandemic.
I find this motion, which I would classify as a confidence motion, to be amazing. The Conservatives should look at the details and read it thoroughly. It will take quite a while to read, because it is a very lengthy motion.
This all goes back to what it is the Conservatives have been up to for the last five years. They may as well not have had a change of leadership, because it is almost as if Stephen Harper is still here.
At the end of the day, the Conservative Party needs to get on track. It needs to put less attention on some issues and more attention on this issue, the issue of the pandemic. We are now well into the second wave.
I made reference to organizations. I had discussions with Folklorama, an organization I am very proud of. It is such an economic driver for the city of Winnipeg. It is an organization that really amplifies and embodies Canada's diversity. It does so much good for my city, and in fact, our country. It is the longest running multicultural ethnic event of this nature in North America, and someone once said to me of the world, which I suspect could be the case.
Folklorama has now been going on for over 50 years, but not this year. This year we did not have those two weeks of celebration of diversity, with displays of culture and heritage, entertainment in the forms of dance and song, or the gathering of hundreds of thousands of people in the city of Winnipeg to appreciate our diversity. The reason for that was the pandemic.
The Government of Canada, through the wage subsidy program, was able to assist Folklorama. This is one organization. Some of its members said they were not sure if it would be able to survive this year because of the pandemic.
Another great program is 211. We finally have a national 211 program in Canada because of funding that in part came from Ottawa. Obviously it is also the United Way and some wonderful people. I think of Ms. Walker in particular, who did a fantastic job in advocating for 211. Now there is an Internet presence, and most importantly, a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week phone line that can be accessed from anywhere in Canada, from what I understand. By calling 211, people can access all sorts of different programs.
Those are the types of things having a positive impact on real people in all of our communities. I remember months ago talking with the United Way about the program and how important it was to try to incorporate it to its fullest extent in the province of Manitoba. I was so pleased the other week when we finally saw it come to fruition.
There are endless examples of small businesses that are here today because of the support they received from the government. I reference the CERB program. Disposable income that Canadians rely on day in, day out is absolutely critical. That particular program, which came from nowhere and is a direct result of the pandemic, was there for over eight million Canadians. It allowed them to purchase the groceries they needed. It allowed them to get the things that were important to their lives.
On co-operation and recognizing how important the pandemic is, we have been working with provinces. I believe the amount was over $19 billion for the safe restart program. The Government of Canada worked with provincial and territorial jurisdictions in order to ensure we have in place what is important to help us all get through a second wave.
Liberals understand, and I like to think most members of Parliament understand, why we need to be here. We get criticized for proroguing the session. Let me remind members that there was an agreement by the majority of the House when we rose earlier this year that we would come back on September 23. We had agreed to that. We also agreed that we would sit, albeit in committee of the whole, on the floor of the House during the summer. We would have to go back to 1988 to find the last time the House of Commons sat in July and August.
When we were sitting here, I had never before witnessed the opportunity for opposition parties to contribute to policy development for the Government of Canada, never. They had the opportunity not just to ask one question and a supplementary question. They had five-minute slots. We were going for well over two hours, during which hundreds of questions were being asked by opposition and government members of ministers to try to influence policy.
There were more days that we sat in the summer than we lost because of prorogation. Prorogation is utilized, even in the province of Manitoba. Here is a bit of hypocrisy. How can a Conservative member of Parliament criticize proroguing a session, especially if the member is from Manitoba, when the Manitoba government prorogued its session? Go figure. Yes, there is a pandemic in Manitoba, too. It is across Canada. Yes, WE does get money from the Province of Manitoba, too.
The point is that the Conservatives will do whatever they can to twist things. The opposition House leader said the Prime Minister has been investigated by the commissioner more than any other prime minister. We hear that every so often. It was Stephen Harper who established the commissioner. How stupid a comment from the Conservative Party saying the Prime Minister is the worst.
I have far more faith in the commissioner than I do in the official opposition, far more faith, the reason being that the Conservatives obviously have a bias. They have demonstrated that bias since the day after the Liberals were elected five years ago, five years plus a day. Five years ago, the Conservatives started their character assassination and they have not stopped since. Why should people believe what the Conservative Party has to say on the issue of corruption?
Do members recall the Senate scandal during the Stephen Harper government? Do they know how many people were linked to the PMO during the Senate scandal? That is where there was a payout. If we really think about it, the commissioner is there to ensure that the political partisanship we see from the Conservative Party is put to the side and we stick to the facts. The facts on that issue are that it was public civil servants who made the recommendation.
I see my time has expired. I would ask for leave to continue, but I expect the Conservatives would not want this continual barrage of reality.
At the end of the day, I am hopeful that members will see the Conservative interference in the House of Commons, which is having a negative impact on Liberals being able to do what we need to do with regard to fighting the coronavirus that is impacting every region of our country.
That is what Canadians want us to be focused on. That is what the government will continue to be focused on.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I am always pleased when the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader is giving speeches, because it offers me an opportunity to do penance and to offer up my suffering here in the hopes of reducing my time in whatever comes next. I am glad that he took 20 minutes. I would have been happy to give him leave for more time to earn more time off from purgatory.
The member has such faulty logic. All along there are just too many holes. I know some of my colleagues want to ask questions, too, so I will not litigate, point for point, all of his logical fallacies.
However, on his idea that focusing and asking questions about this corruption scandal is somehow doing Canadians a disservice, the member is missing the point. It is his party and his Prime Minister that used the pandemic to reward their friends. It is his party that, when Canadians were scared about their health and worried about their financial well-being, took the time to stop and make sure their friends were compensated, that they got a share of the big bucks that were rolling out of the Prime Minister's Office.
That is what this investigation is about: holding a government accountable that would use a pandemic, an unprecedented time in Canadian history, to give itself massive amounts of power and then pay off its well-connected friends. That is what this investigation is about. That is why Canadians deserve to get answers on the WE corruption scandal.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 11:08 [p.951]
Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the former leader of the Conservative Party, what balderdash. That is just not true. I do not believe for a moment that, in this pandemic, the billions of dollars being spent is about rewarding Liberals. I do not believe that for a moment.
What I do believe is that the billions of dollars spent have been spent in order to support Canadians in all regions of our country in a very real and tangible way.
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, that was fantastic. I appreciated the speech by my hon. colleague across the way.
When it was time to get to the bottom of the scandals involving the Mulroney government, the Liberals had some questions, and rightly so.
When the Harper government was involved in scandals, the Liberals wanted to get to the bottom of them, and rightly so.
When the sponsorship scandal erupted, the Bloc wanted to get to the bottom of it, and rightly so.
My hon. colleague said we are being partisan because we would dare try to get to the bottom of a scandal involving the Prime Minister. He said so vigorously and passionately. I actually have to tip my hat to my hon. colleague, because in doing so, he is the one reaching new heights of partisanship. I would even say that his speech was the Himalayas of partisanship.
I listened to my hon. colleague and I must say, I do not know how he does it. I just said I had to tip my hat to him.
This is what I want to know: As a representative of the people, how can he defend the indefensible?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 11:10 [p.951]
Mr. Speaker, it might be because, in the last 30 years, I have had the opportunity to be in opposition for the vast majority of those years, over 20 years. I am hoping to do the same number of years on the government side, but one never knows. It is Canadians who will make that determination.
At the end of the day, opposition parties do have a choice and it is about where they spend their time. Who am I to tell the Bloc or the NDP or the Conservatives where they should spend their time?
Much like the opposition parties hold the government accountable for what we do, I believe I also have a responsibility to hold the opposition parties accountable, and in particular, the Conservative opposition. I believe the Conservatives are doing a disservice to Canadians by spending so much time on one issue and foregoing a lot of discussion they could be having in regard to what is on the minds of all Canadians: the pandemic.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-10-20 11:11 [p.951]
Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of April, the Prime Minister made a promise to the people of Canada. That was when he used to come out from his house every day and say what he was going to do. He made a promise on April 8 that he would help university students, and he broke it.
Once it became clear that a group that was tied to his family financially would get an unprecedented amount of money, between $500 and $900 million, when no other options were put on the table because it was there from the get-go, writing the plans with key Liberal ministers, what did the Prime Minister do? He pulled that money away from university students. They still have not received a thing.
That member has the gall to stand in the House and talk about how much his government cares about the pandemic, while threatening members of Parliament with an election if we do not kowtow to the Prime Minister and his government. They sent a letter to our committee telling us that we did not have the right to talk about our privileges as members of Parliament and that they would force an election.
Do not give me any of this hypocrisy about how the Liberals actually care about people in a pandemic when, to protect the Prime Minister in an investigation, he is willing to go to the polls during the worst economic, financial and medical catastrophe in a century rather than having the decency to answer questions of parliamentarians.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 11:13 [p.952]
Mr. Speaker, with respect to this specific program, it is important to recognize that a suite of programs was made available to support students in university and college, and students in general. For example, we saw the enhancement of the summer youth employment program. Many initiatives were taken.
The member is referring to one initiative. If time allowed, I would welcome the opportunity to continue to expand on it.
View Terry Duguid Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Terry Duguid Profile
2020-10-20 11:14 [p.952]
Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the speeches of the member for Winnipeg North for some 33 years. He gets more eloquent every year. Of course, we are both from Manitoba. I am the member for Winnipeg South and just yesterday our public health officer announced that our caseload was 122 cases per 100,000 people. That is the nation's hot spot or certainly one of the hot spots. We are very concerned. The chief public health officer here is bringing in new measures.
I wonder if the member for Winnipeg North could provide a few reflections on his community of Winnipeg. What is he hearing from residents? What is he hearing from small business? I know this is Small Business Week and many of our small businesses are hanging on by their fingernails. Why will this motion paralyze the government and prevent us from serving our citizens? Maybe the member has a final few reflections—
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-10-20 11:15 [p.952]
The hon. parliamentary secretary.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 11:15 [p.952]
Mr. Speaker, the member for Winnipeg South has highlighted just how important it is to recognize that we are in a second wave. The expectations are just as great, if not greater, than what they were over the last number of months.
Our constituents in certain sectors are very nervous. One can appreciate that, with kids going to school and individuals uncertain about their employment. There is a great deal of concern in the city of Winnipeg as we watch the numbers every day.
I want to assure the residents of Winnipeg North and all Canadians that no matter what is thrown at us from the Conservative Party, we will remain focused on the people of Canada.
View Colin Carrie Profile
CPC (ON)
View Colin Carrie Profile
2020-10-20 11:16 [p.952]
Mr. Speaker, I continue to hear the member's speeches and I am a little bit outraged. He is asking us to work together, but to work together to cover up Liberal corruption. It is the same Liberal Party that was here back in the scandale des commandites. It seems that nothing has changed over there.
We saw the Liberal government shut down Parliament and put in place a committee that would only work on one thing, the pandemic. I like all members are here to do our jobs, and we can do more than one thing at one time.
Will the member please support this motion so our health committee, finance committee and other committees can get back to work? Canadians deserve a Prime Minister that can walk and chew gum; do more than one thing at one time.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 11:17 [p.952]
Mr. Speaker, I want to emphasize that if we look at this motion, it is a motion of confidence. I hope people will take the time to read the details of it.
We need to be focusing our attention on what is the primary priority of all Canadians, and that is fighting the pandemic and doing what we can to keep Canadians healthy, safe and our economy in a good position.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, you nearly caught me off guard because it is my oldest son's birthday, so I was thinking about something for him. However, I will get back to these very serious matters.
We are debating a motion, moved by the Conservatives, based on a principle that we support right off the bat, that is, to shed light on the key issues that smack of scandal that accumulated during the second term of this Liberal government led by the member for Papineau. The desire to call out this government is undeniable, but this is more about getting to the bottom of these issues and the errors in judgment that keep piling up one on top of the other. This needs to happen. However, it might also be appropriate to suggest areas of reflection, possible solutions, improvements and ways to tighten things up.
What we would have liked is not to allow the government to sweep the WE affair under the rug by proroguing Parliament, changing the subject, and coming back with a throne speech which essentially had no substance and which should be followed by some hopefully meaningful economic measures. I have to say, so far, it has worked relatively well. The WE affair is much less in the news than it was before Parliament was prorogued, but that is unacceptable, because Quebeckers and Canadians cannot remain in the dark and ignorant about so important an issue.
Seeing what was coming, the Liberals strategically decided to introduce a motion that was essentially intended to sidestep the problem. The Liberals decided to introduce a motion that would address all of the financial issues relating to the pandemic, but these are two entirely different things.
The fact is that the Canadian government committed hundreds of millions of dollars to fight the effects of the pandemic. We are up to around $325 billion. That is one thing. It certainly deserves a careful examination by Parliament, which is tasked with protecting the interests, in particular the financial interests, of Quebeckers and Canadians. However, the government’s unacceptable ethical behaviour is quite another thing. These are repeated and serious instances of misconduct, of which this is one example.
It seems that the Prime Minister wanted to help a friendly, albeit not-for-profit, organization, an organization that had such serious governance issues that the directors were resigning in droves, an organization that awarded $250,000 in contracts to the Prime Minister’s mother, some $30,000 to his brother and tens of thousands of dollars in expenses to his wife. The former minister of finance benefited from $41,000 in trips. In a sort of admission in which he did not want to admit that he was admitting anything, the Prime Minister threw his finance minister under the bus.
We agree, and we immediately said so to avoid having the exercise turn into a mudslinging contest. The Prime Minister’s family is not politically active. We respect that. Now, we need to shed light on the matter. I am not saying that it was one rather than the other, but we immediately agreed with the principle because my colleague from Rivière-du-Nord also made a proposal similar to the one in this motion.
With dramatic flair, the Liberals finally decided that they were going to force a confidence vote. I will say right away that they have probably already finagled and squirrelled away the NDP’s vote, but one has to keep up appearances. They will have to say that they acted correctly in the WE affair. Otherwise, there will be a general election. The entire exercise is ridiculous, because we do not believe it for a second.
However, if the Liberal government thinks it is a good time for it to call an election, we do not. If the Prime Minister thinks it is a good idea for strategic reasons, and if he is so afraid of what a more in-depth investigation will show, let him grow a spine, even if that is not his specialty, or let him go see his pal the Governor General and call an election. He should not try to blame his own strategic calculations on the legitimate opposition parties, whose members were elected just as the government’s members were. A spine is a good thing to have. We can lend him one.
There is something truly distasteful about this challenge. The government is asking us to condone inexcusable behaviour, to say it was all okay. Otherwise, it will call an election. It wants to blackmail Parliament so that it can be cleared of all serious ethical misconduct. Quebeckers are honest and intelligent people. My response to the government’s blackmail is, “Don’t even think it!”
We intended to vote with the Conservatives on this motion, and we will vote with the Conservatives. If the agreement between the Liberals and the NDP still stands after that, the Liberals will remain in power. If not, we will find ourselves in the middle of an election campaign. For those who do not think it is a good idea, that is the Liberals’ problem. It is their choice, their fault, and they will have to bear the responsibility.
Clearly the system does not work very well when it comes to ethics. The Prime Minister was given a trip worth about $50,000 as a gift from his friend the Aga Khan. He broke the rules and intervened directly in a matter under the responsibility of the Department of Justice. Remember that we are in the age of “Liberalist, part A.” In fact, today we have the “Liberalist, part B,” which tell us that, if someone wants to be appointed a judge, they will be better off planting a Liberal Party sign on their lawn or writing a $15 cheque to the Party than having a distinguished legal career. We have had enough. These decisions must be based on fair, relevant and helpful criteria that serve the public interest.
Obviously, there is the WE Charity. There is also—some may have forgotten this—the wage subsidy and the fact that the Liberal Party pocketed some $800,000 earmarked for struggling businesses. The businesses are still struggling, and the Liberals still have not paid back the $800,000. I must point out that the Conservatives have given back what they took. We in the Bloc Québécois never even applied for the subsidy, because we are funded by citizens who believe that what we do is fair, good and legitimate, including striving for independence.
Lastly, let us recall—we forget this all too often as well, although it is perhaps the most important example—that the spouse of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff is vice-president of a company that was awarded an $84-million contract. That is a lot, but, for reasons I cannot understand, it has not garnered much interest.
In any case, it directly implicates the Prime Minister or the PMO. The system is not working. We are faced with the classic Liberal arrogance, the belief that power belongs, almost by divine right, to the Liberals. It is not surprising that Canada is still hung up on the monarchy.
However, our system does not work that way. Power belongs to the electorate.
Therefore, we have the following situation. On at least five occasions, the Prime Minister or members of his immediate entourage made serious ethical mistakes. The Prime Minister gets away with it by shedding a tiny tear that would not even wet the corner of a tissue before moving on to something else. Life is good.
That makes no sense. We therefore thought that the Ethics Commissioner should be given some teeth. His decisions have to smart, they have to hurt. They have to give pause to those who lack the good sense to do the right thing for the right reason. If that means they must be punished by sending them to the corner and taking away their dessert, that is what we will do.
I do not wish to present legislation to Parliament, because we are not at that point, but I do have some food for thought. I present to the House for its considered judgment four ideas that we could debate quickly, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that it is possible to act quickly when there is the will to do so.
First, when the mistake is quantifiable and the individual is found to be at fault, the value of the mistake must be automatically repaid. For example, the Prime Minister was pleased that the finance minister repaid $41,000, and yet, the Prime Minister owes $50,000. Let's start with that.
If the Ethics Commissioner finds someone at fault, they can use their discretion and impose a fine of up to $10,000. That will give pause.
The Ethics Commissioner could recommend fines above $10,000 to Parliament, which is completely sovereign. Parliament would vote on whether to approve that fine. The Ethics Commissioner could also recommend that Parliament temporarily suspend the parliamentary privileges of any member found at fault. The higher the member is in the hierarchy, the higher the standard they are held to. The pyramid is currently reversed, and the highest level is the worst.
Lastly, immediate family members, such as children, spouses, parents, and siblings, would be considered the same as the member of Parliament, in terms of ethics. There would no longer be any distinction between the two. If this were enforced retroactively, it would obviously sting some people. That is not what I am asking for. I want us to think of this as a way to issue penalties that are serious enough that even the worst examples, and I will not name any since I am not allowed to under the Standing Orders, will have to think twice, even though that does not seem like a house specialty. If these rules had been around in 2015, I think the Prime Minister would have thought twice. If he wants to trigger an election, I think he should also think twice.
View Colin Carrie Profile
CPC (ON)
View Colin Carrie Profile
2020-10-20 11:29 [p.954]
Mr. Speaker, I think the leader of the Bloc Québécois is bang on. In Quebec there is a long memory. We all remember the sponsorship scandal and this idea of kickbacks, where favoured companies and favoured individuals seemed able to funnel money back either to individual Liberals or to the organization. It is an extremely dangerous situation right now. It is almost as if history is repeating itself.
Why is it so important that we move forward with this committee so that Parliament can get on with the business that Canadians would like to see parliamentarians do? Does he think this is a reason to have an election, or is it important that we get our work done?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my esteemed colleague.
I will start with the last question.
We are in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a second wave that may be followed by a third, and we are not sure what is coming after that. This is obviously not the best time to trigger an election.
I heard the bombastic but occasionally likeable leader of the government say that I wanted to trigger an election. No. We wanted to defend our position and condemn a throne speech that was an insult to Quebec for a thousand and one good reasons, rather than condone it by voting for it. This is not the best time, but the question is always the same: Which is the lesser of two evils? Is it better to allow His Majesty the Prime Minister to do whatever he wants, however he wants and whenever he wants, to the detriment and at the expense of Quebeckers and Canadians, or is it better to say that he needs to be taught a lesson?
That is the fundamental question. If management improves afterwards, and if, supposing he is re-elected, someone is there to give him a rap on the knuckles and tell him that he can be replaced, that might not be a bad thing.
We need to examine the fundamental issues. On the issue of elections, I must say that I would prefer not to have one, but we may have no choice.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 11:32 [p.954]
Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister was leader of the third party, a position the leader of the Bloc has now, he came up with the idea of proactive disclosure. I recall sitting right behind where the leader is right now when we were trying to get unanimous support for this. We never did get unanimous support, but the leader of the Liberal Party at the time, our Prime Minister, instructed all Liberal MPs to live by proactive disclosure with regard to members' office expenditures. It took a little while, but eventually the Conservatives came onside. They were shamed into coming onside.
If the member opposite has ideas that he believes Parliament would be better off to adopt, there are forums where they could be brought in. He could do what the leader of the Liberal Party did in the past and impose them upon his own respective caucus to see if they will grow, or he could raising them at a committee meeting.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, proactive disclosure is always a good thing in principle. However, when a governing party wants to vote against a motion aimed at investigating a matter and revealing the truth, it is clear that its members are not big fans of proactive disclosure.
More generally, if the government is against something ethics-related, it must be a good idea.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-10-20 11:33 [p.954]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned a number of historical events of wrongdoing that we would want to investigate. They were not that long ago.
I wonder if the member agrees with me that the WE Charity scandal fades compared with the allegations of obstruction of justice in the SNC-Lavalin matter. Would we not want to investigate the efforts to block the RCMP investigation? It was before last year's election, but this is not that long ago.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, some mornings, it takes a little longer to really wake up than others. This morning, it did not take long at all. When I read the Radio-Canada piece about liberalism, part two, I was instantly awake and furious. None of this makes one bit of sense. These people believe they can do whatever they want.
When Canada's Liberal Prime Minister is best compared to the former Liberal premier of Quebec, who probably sent post-it notes by express post, there is clearly an ethics problem. We have to get to the bottom of this. People have to be able to judge for themselves.
Is some sort of commission of inquiry really the best way to go? It would be problematic because the government has a minority. The clock is ticking, but there is not much time left. Such a commission's report would not come out until well after what looks like an impending election. Things need to happen faster.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I might ask the member for Beloeil—Chambly why his party made the odd decision, not once but twice, to go easy on the Liberals at the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics by agreeing to adjourn. These are typical Bloc Québécois tactics.
If the Liberal government is okay with proroguing Parliament, obstructing the work of two parliamentary committees by filibustering all night long, and threatening to call an election, then probably the Liberal government is in more trouble than we thought with WE Charity.
I would like my colleague to comment on that.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised to hear the NDP member's concern for the Liberal government. The two parties are so close.
Our tactics are up to us. The difference between the NDP's tactics and ours is that we in the Bloc Québécois choose our own tactics. The New Democrats get theirs dictated by the other side of the House, but that is their choice.
I do not think it is because the government is in that much trouble. Someone is definitely in trouble, but it is not the government. It can save its skin by either using the NDP as a prop or saying that, if an election is called, it is the opposition parties' fault. It is not a bad strategic position to be in.
View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I have a very simple question.
After everything we have heard, could our leader please take a moment to explain to our future voters, with his usual eloquence and clear language, what is happening in the government in terms of public trust in relation to the pandemic?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my esteemed colleague from Laurentides—Labelle for the question.
Again, that is a planted question that was not planted. I was not made aware of it in advance, which makes it more fun.
The government's strategy is more or less systematically the same. If someone triggers an election during the pandemic they are the bad guy and should be sanctioned and punished for triggering an election. The government keeps saying that we have to support everything it does even when it does not make sense, otherwise we will be responsible for triggering an election.
We are not going to back down. We will stand up for our values and our convictions. We will vote in favour of what is best for Quebec and we will vote against what is not good for Quebec. Shedding light on the WE Charity scandal is good for Quebec so we will vote in favour of the motion. Burying the WE Charity affair in a false analysis of COVID-19 spending would not be good for Quebec, so we are voting against that.
If the Liberals decide to make this a confidence vote, it's their neck on the line, not mine.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-10-20 11:38 [p.955]
I am very proud to be here to speak on behalf of the people of Timmins—James Bay.
We are currently in the midst of an unprecedented economic and health crisis. The pandemic has disrupted our economy. This morning, the Liberal government declared its intent to plunge Canada into an election to avoid questions about the WE Charity scandal and the Prime Minister's family. That is not acceptable. The government must stop shutting down committees and start collaborating with the other parties to explain the WE Charity scandal to Canadians. That is why I am here.
I would like to read a quote:
It has come to this, Mr. Speaker. In order for members of the House to do our jobs and make informed decisions...we need to pry scraps of relevant information out of the Conservatives' clenched fists and drag it out of them as they kick and scream at committee.
Who said that? It was our Prime Minister, in 2011. Remember that man? That man was open by default. He was the man who told the Canadian people that his would be the government of transparency. That was around the time the Prime Minister was the youth critic for the Liberal Party. He fessed up that while he was the youth critic, he had a side gig of charging massive amounts of money to speak to young people for his private business.
It was fascinating when the Prime Minister had to explain how much money he was making running his side business while acting as a member of Parliament. He listed about 28 public speaking events. I thought it was pretty extraordinary to get paid $10,000 to talk to young people when every member of the House does it for free because we believe it is our job. However, we found out yesterday in the release of documents that, no, our Prime Minister did not speak 28 times and get paid for it; it was more like 128 times. We just found that out yesterday because the government was forced to turn over documents.
We are here because of a series of decisions, made at the cabinet level by senior Liberal politicians, that threw off so much of the good work and goodwill in the first wave of the pandemic. I remember those first frightening days in March, when we did not know what was happening and our offices were dealing with Canadians who were trapped all over the world trying to get home. We were trying to answer questions on COVID, and every morning our Prime Minister stood out in front of his house and reassured the Canadian people. Every morning in my home we stopped what we were doing to listen to our Prime Minister speak. I was so proud that in Canada we were showing a unity of spirit.
I remember the press conference on April 8, when the Prime Minister responded to pressure that the New Democrats had been putting on him to deal with the crisis facing university students. Post-secondary students are not only facing massive levels of student debt from years of Liberal and Conservative indifference. They also have huge loans because of the fees they have to pay for university. They knew they had no work coming up this summer, so the ability of post-secondary students to continue their studies was a serious issue.
We heard from some Conservative media people too. They wondered: Are we going to pay students so they can sit in a hammock and smoke pot all summer? What disrespect for students, who are coming out of university with $50,000 or $100,000 of debt.
We pushed the Prime Minister for action, and on April 8 he said very clearly that he would have a plan to help university students. It was a promise, and we are going to get into what happened between April 8 and April 22, when the Prime Minister and his team decided that instead of helping university students across Canada, they would help their friends the Kielburgers. I say this because when the scandal broke and it became clear that the money that should have gone to help university students was being diverted to a group that had close financial ties to the Prime Minister's family, Canadians from coast to coast balked.
What did the Prime Minister do? He pulled that money. None of that money ever flowed. He took that money away from university students, who deserve better.
What we are being told today, after the Liberals prorogued and shut down our committees, after two weeks of blocking our work at the ethics and finance committees, is that the Liberals are ready to plunge this nation into an election. We are in the worst medical and economic crisis in a century. The second wave of this pandemic is already much more serious than the first. We have much more insecurity economically right now, yet this Prime Minister is willing to plunge the nation into the uncertainty of an election when we know that the vectors for the virus could easily be magnified a thousand times by polling and people going door to door, and having to do the jobs of a democratic election, but also leaving Canada without any leadership for the coming three months.
Why is that? It is to avoid giving answers about the WE scandal.
We are here this morning because the Conservatives put their offer on the table. We had gone to the government and said that we needed to get focused. The government cannot continue to avoid questions on the WE scandal and the misspending that happened, and we need to get answers. We cannot have our committees prorogued. We cannot have them filibustered. We asked, in good faith, to set up a committee where we could deal with this so that the finance committee could do its work, House procedures could do its work and ethics could do its work. Boy oh boy, I would love to be sitting at the ethics committee and looking at issues like the importance of getting legislation on facial recognition technology.
We reached out to the Liberals and said, “Let us get a committee in place.” The Liberals said they would get us a committee. It would be chaired by Liberals and dominated by Liberals. The Liberals would then get to do what they do at all the other committees they do not like: They would just monkey-wrench them and shut them down. That is not going to work.
Now the Conservatives have come forward with their anti-corruption motion. As always with the Conservatives, they cannot just come forward with a motion that is something that will pass the nod test with Canadians. Not only was it called the anti-corruption motion, and now they are having to walk that back, but the Conservatives had to start naming a bunch of people who have never actually been charged with corruption. Frank Baylis, a former member of Parliament, sat on the ethics committee with me. I know Frank. I do not know anything about Frank's business, and I do not know if Frank has done anything corrupt. That is something to be found out. However, I find it very uncomfortable when I see people's names being thrown around just because they happen to be Liberals. We can do better than that. The Conservatives have a motion on the table, and it is a very serious motion. We need to get this work done.
Of course, there is actually a third option, which the New Democrats have put forward. It is trying to get, between these two old-line parties, a sense of responsibility in the middle of a pandemic: that we have a committee that has the ability to call for documents. That is unlike the House leader, who said that calling for documents would put thousands of civil servants at risk in the middle of a pandemic. Wow. I have heard a lot of whoppers over the years in the House of Commons, but that is going to rank up there in my top 10 favourites: the right of parliamentarians to get documents is somehow putting not hundreds, but thousands, at risk. We are saying no: that another committee, if it is struck, has the right to get documents.
We agree that perhaps the Conservatives demanding that all the documents be turned over in 12 hours, or 15 or 20, is kind of ridiculous. A committee can decide what is reasonable. We also said that given the fact that we saw, under SNC-Lavalin, how the Liberal chair did such an extraordinary job of shutting it down and squashing it, we cannot trust a Liberal chair.
Now I can see that the Conservatives are very wary of our friend from Carleton who keeps taking over the chair at his own committee. They probably do not want that either. Therefore, let us have an opposition chair and let us vote on it. Let us vote on someone who all parties can agree would be a good, solid opposition chair. That way we would know that we could get the job done. That is about working together. That is the offer that is on the table.
In terms of the documents, we have made a number of suggestions. For example, at the ethics committee I put a motion of an amendment to my hon. colleague from Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes. We said we understand the Prime Minister has drawn a line in the sand about his family, and the fact that the WE group was paying Margaret and Sacha Trudeau.
We know they got paid. There is no surprise there. We were told they were not paid. That was false. The WE group asked the Kielburgers if the Trudeau family was being paid and was told they were not being paid. We have to ask ourselves what was going on at WE Charity that the board of directors tried to find out whether Margaret and Sacha were being paid and was falsely told they were not being paid. We went from being told they were not being paid anything to being told they were paid an extraordinary amount of money. That is a key issue in terms of the overall question of the conflict of interest facing the Prime Minister, because my colleagues in the Liberal party have gone out of their way to try and read the Conflict of Interest Act to say that family members, such as a mother or brother, cannot be shown in any way under the laws of Canada to be relatives. That is quite the reading, because it is very clear in section 3, and the definitions of family and relatives, that they are relatives.
Why does that matter? Because under section 5 of the Conflict of Interest Act, it is up to the Prime Minister to keep his personal life in order so that he is not put into a conflict of interest.
I invite my colleagues to read the Trudeau 1 report. It was the family members' relations with the Aga Khan, not the Prime Minister's, that resulted in the Prime Minister being found guilty. The Prime Minister's familial connections to WE are very important.
Does this mean the Prime Minister knew what the family was making? I do not think so. I do not think we can make that leap, but what we could say is there is a very strong prima facie case that, once the Prime Minister became the Prime Minister of this nation, the WE group was extremely adept at insinuating itself within the Liberal ranks by hiring the mother and hiring the brother. The Kielburgers told us they were not being paid to do public speaking: they were being paid to do corporate events, which they call ancillary events. That is a serious issue, in the same way as the Kielburger group insinuated itself by inviting all kinds of key Liberal cabinet ministers to participate, and when the WE group was in trouble it called those same people who had spoken at its WE events and got the all-access pass.
Having said that, we know Margaret Trudeau and Sacha Trudeau were paid. To me, that is not the hill to die on. The government has released a whole bunch of documents about the payments already. We have that. Whether they got paid 27 times or 28 times is not relevant to me. What is relevant is the issue of lobbying, so let us put that aside. We said that at ethics. We were more than willing to say at ethics not to deal with the family, but with the Prime Minister. Then the Liberals talked the clock out, so I really do not know what their strategy is half the time, because we could have gotten this motion through.
The issue of documents is really important. My colleagues in the Conservatives are demanding documents and saying they do not have enough documents. We have 5,000 pages of documents. Our friend from Carleton came in, threw them all over the room and walked out. Five thousand pages of documents was so much that the Conservatives set up a website and asked the public to do crowdsourced reading of the documents for them.
How serious are the Conservatives? Either we are going to read these documents and take them seriously or we are not.
While the Conservatives threw the documents all over and stomped out and then asked for public help reading the documents, we sat down and read the documents. Those documents raised very serious questions, because they clearly contradicted the government line, where it threw the civil service under the bus time and time again. It is still throwing the civil service under the bus. It is trying to claim that it was the idea of the civil service: the non-partisan, professional civil service. The Minister of Youth said 23 times, in one hour at hearing, that the professional, non-partisan civil service came up with the WE idea. The Liberals said it was the professional, non-partisan civil service that blacked out these documents. That is not true. This was done in the PMO.
What do the documents show us? They show that it was not the civil service that came forward with this idea. This happened at an April 17 meeting with the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, the Kielburgers and WE's director of government relations, Ms. Sofia Marquez.
WE is not registered to lobby, but it has a director of government relations. In fact, it had more meetings with government officials than General Motors did. That is pretty wild for two guys who present themselves as young idealists from Thornhill. They were so busy with government relations that, on top of their director of government relations, they were going to hire a manager for government relations, and none of that was registered under the Lobbying Act.
Why is that important? It is because the Lobbying Act allows us to see the key meetings that are being held. It allows us to see where the insiders are moving, but the Kielburger group were such total insiders that they did not bother to register to lobby, because they had the key ministers on speed dial.
They had the Minister for Diversity and Youth, who they had invited to come to one of their WE events, where she got to speak and was treated like royalty. When they were in financial free fall, they called her and had a special meeting on April 17. My Conservative colleague asked the minister at the finance committee, at our very first meeting on the WE scandal, if she had taken any meetings with anyone from WE prior to the decision by the government. She said that she never discussed the youth engagement proposal with anyone from WE. Naively, we thought she was telling the truth. We found out four days later she had held the April 17 meeting, so we brought her to the ethics committee and tried to get a straight answer. She said again that she never discussed the youth engagement proposal. That is because on April 17 the youth engagement proposal did not exist. It did not exist until April 22.
She said that she never talked about any of the issues around it, but that is not what we got from the documents from Craig Kielburger. That is not what we got from Sofia Marquez. Craig Kielburger wrote to the minister and said, “We appreciate your thoughtful offer to connect us with the relevant members of your ministry.... Over the weekend, our team has also been hard at work to adapt your suggestions for a second stream focused on a summer service opportunity.” That minister still has her seat at cabinet after the misrepresentation she made.
On the morning of April 19, two days after that meeting, Rachel Wernick, the civil servant we have been told came up with this idea and who has been blamed again and again by the Liberals, emailed Craig Kielburger for an urgent meeting because she had been told that this was the direction to go.
On April 20, senior policy officials in Bill Morneau's office were involved. There is a man who had one of the most powerful positions in the country. He never bothered to read the Conflict of Interest Act, and he wonders why he does not have a job today. I asked him if he had read the Conflict of Interest Act, as he had been found guilty, and he shrugged and said he was given a lot of documents. It is the failure of the Liberals to take the issue of conflict seriously that has gotten them into trouble.
We are here today as the Liberals have taken yet another step to avoid accountability. We have offered to work with them and have offered to lay out a committee, but this work will continue. This work will get done. If they obstruct us here, we will continue at the committees that we can control and in which we can use our leverage, because Canadians need an answer. What Canadians need, in terms of an answer, is better than the threat of the government to force an election for the Prime Minister to escape taking accountability.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 11:58 [p.958]
Mr. Speaker, I believe that it is fairly well established that the public service made the recommendation to go with WE. The member has made a very specific allegation that the PMO, not a public civil servant, actually made the recommendation.
I am wondering if he would do us the favour of indicating to the House who in the PMO he actually believes gave the recommendation.
Does he have a name, or is it purely speculative?
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-10-20 11:59 [p.958]
Madam Speaker, if my colleagues were not so afraid to hold committee meetings, they would get those answers. Being that the Liberals are not letting us sit, we are not getting to it.
I would go back to the minister that identified it, who set up those two meetings, who then set up the meetings with diversity, who set up the meetings with finance, who drove this all. Rachel Wernick, in one of the emails, said that at the end the decision is political, and if the minister was good with it, they were good with it.
My hon. colleague is standing up yet again to try to throw our civil service under the bus, over a scheme that would have diverted $900 million to people who hired the Prime Minister's family, to a group that did election-style ads for the Prime Minister, that did not bother to register for lobbying, yet they got government contract after government contract.
If the member bothered to read any of the documents or bothered to have his people show up rather than block committee, he would know that we are getting close to the answers. I think that is why the Liberals are threatening an election now. It is because they know that this is coming back, again and again.
Finally, in the 5,000 pages of documents, there is not a single person who says, “Whoa, they have pictures of Margaret and Sacha in the promotion of the deal.” They were using the Prime Minister's family to get this $900-million contract, and nobody at cabinet thought it was a problem.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-10-20 12:00 [p.958]
Madam Speaker, my colleague and I have been here for a very long time, well over 10 years. It is 15 years for me and I am assuming it is a little north of that—
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-10-20 12:01 [p.958]
It is 29.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-10-20 12:01 [p.958]
There we go. He was here somewhat before me. In that time, we have had some great exchanges in the House, and in that time, my colleague has actually earned himself the reputation of being a fighter of corruption, of being somebody who would stand up for the little people, somebody who would get to the bottom of issues.
He is the critic for ethics for his political party, and he would have been asked by his leadership team for advice on how the NDP would respond to this motion today.
What did the member tell his leader, what did his leader say back to him and what is the NDP going to do when it comes time to vote on the motion?
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-10-20 12:01 [p.959]
Madam Speaker, I have great respect for my colleague. I always get really nervous when the Conservatives tell me how much they like me. I sort of feel like it is being invited to go down and have a picnic by the riverbank with the crocodiles, who are saying, “Come on down and sit with us. We have always thought you were a really decent guy.” I have been there and done that, and I wear the scars.
I would tell my friend that there are three offers on the table. One of those offers is coming from us. We are going to see what the Liberals do. Right now, they are taking a dive. Stay tuned. If the Liberals are willing to work and get a committee, we are going to get that committee one way or another.
View Kristina Michaud Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, one of the arguments made by the Liberals in response to this motion is that this is not the time to look into corruption because of the current pandemic. The government can cite the pandemic as the reason for the blockages at the border, immigration, Service Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency and so forth, but it is completely absurd to say that it is not the time to look into corruption because of the pandemic. Furthermore, the government has only itself to blame for getting embroiled in the WE Charity scandal.
I would like to know if my colleague agrees with me that it is time for the opposition to close ranks and that the proposal to create a special committee to study the issue and let the other committees do their usual work is a good solution.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-10-20 12:03 [p.959]
Madam Speaker, it is amazing. We come to committee, we sit there and the Liberals tell us how it is terrible we cannot get to work, but then they will not let us work. They are doing the same now. The Liberals are threatening an actual election over our need to get work done.
The reason this thing matters is that we are spending an unprecedented amount of money, and we will need to spend that money to get people through this. We have to be able to say to the Canadian people that this money was spent to help Canadians, to help students and small businesses, not to help friends of the Liberal Party.
I am very surprised my hon. colleagues in the Conservative Party did not mention David MacNaughton as part of the study. David MacNaughton was found guilty. Here is a top Liberal insider trying to bring Palantir, one of the creepiest companies on the planet, a massive data surveillance company, run by the extreme right. Oh, maybe that is why they did not want to deal with it, because Peter Thiel is an extreme right-wing guy. He got invited right into the deputy prime minister's office, though, because he was a Liberal.
We need to know decisions about the pandemic are not being done to help Liberal insiders. That is why this work must get done.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
Madam Speaker, the member for Timmins—James Bay will know, as a colleague of mine, that I have worked in the international development sector for over 20 years prior to being elected to the House. I have worked with the WE Charity, and I find it one of the most disgusting organizations I have worked with. It is the absolute opposite of a good organization for international development or global citizenship.
While I was appalled to hear the Liberal government was working with the WE Charity, I am actually most appalled about where that $912 million went that was supposed to support students. I have the University of Alberta and many post-secondary institutions in my riding and that money evaporated.
I would ask my esteemed colleague what the students and recent graduates in my riding are supposed to do now. Where did the $912 million go? Where is the support for students?
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-10-20 12:05 [p.959]
Madam Speaker, yes, my colleague has had a great deal of experience in the international community and there are many disturbing issues being raised. I know that an international group of charities and NGOs released a statement today about their questions regarding WE's involvement in Kenya. That is very troubling. I do not know if it is necessarily the role of Parliament to carry out that investigation. Ours is how the Liberals were going to give this money.
On the second part of my colleague's question, we have an unprecedented crisis facing university students, with their massive levels of debt and the uncertainty of universities reopening. The Prime Minister made that promise on April 8, by April 17 the Kielburgers were in meetings and by April 22, when it was announced, it was the WE plan. Once WE did not get what it wanted and the Prime Minister's group was not able to transfer that money, that money evaporated.
I am telling the Liberals to show some good faith and put that money back in. Tuition could be deferred this winter. What a message that would send to the young generation that is taking on so much debt at a time of uncertainty if the government were to invest in education, like the University of Alberta and Laurentian University in Sudbury. Students would actually be able to carry on with their studies. However, we are not hearing that from the government. We are hearing the government threaten to cause an election in order to evade the consequences of its actions.
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
2020-10-20 12:07 [p.960]
Madam Speaker, I have great admiration for the work that my colleagues across the floor have done in international development. I have done some myself as a former athlete ambassador for various organizations. I also have great admiration and respect for the member for Timmins—James Bay.
I just heard a really good idea: that we investigate how we can help students. With all of the things going on right now in Canada, whether it is everything going on in Nova Scotia with the Mi'kmaq and the lobster fisheries or other various first nations issues, I would ask if we should not be focused on ways to help Canadians and whether forming this committee and discussing these issues would help Canadians or if we should focus on some solutions for Canadians, young, old, everyone.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-10-20 12:08 [p.960]
Madam Speaker, it is that come to Jesus moment, where the Liberals ask if we can just help Canadians. Yes, we can help Canadians. What have we been doing in this House? He is saying let us help Canadians. The best way we help Canadians is to set this committee up so the other committees can do their work, and have the Prime Minister stop threatening an election.
If my colleague said, how about the government helps Canadians, promises not to threaten an election and actually shows that it cares about indigenous people, then, yes, let us do that. If it actually cares about students, it should transfer that $900 million—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Red Deer—Lacombe.
We find ourselves here today addressing a persistent problem with these Liberals. I was elected in 2018 and my first committee assignment was on the justice committee. The expectation was that, with the agenda set for the spring session prior to an election, it would be a good opportunity for me to learn about how committees operate.
What we saw 10 days later was a story in The Globe and Mail that detailed how the Prime Minister, the Liberal Prime Minister, had interfered in the criminal prosecution of his friends at SNC-Lavalin. This of course led to a real lesson on how Liberals operate at committee and what the Liberals do with their majority at committee. We saw this. They would send in members to shut the committee down. Look, they fired their attorney general.
We heard that because it was 2015 things were going to be done differently. Canada had a female indigenous attorney general. She stood up, spoke truth to power and the Prime Minister kicked her out of caucus. We had Dr. Jane Philpott as Treasury Board president, who stood up and spoke truth to power. She saw that what was happening was wrong. What happened? He kicked her out of cabinet and kicked her out of caucus.
Accountability is not the strong suit of the government, to say the least, and we saw that. Before I was elected, we saw in “The Trudeau Report” that the Prime Minister did not understand ethics laws. That is what we were led to believe. It was the first mistake. The second time was the “Trudeau II Report”, the second wave, if we will, of ethical law breaking by these Liberals.
We arrive in a pandemic after my second election, not even two years after I was first elected, and parliamentarians worked together to get results for Canadians in challenging times. We hear it over and over again that these are unprecedented times. It was very interesting to observe that. I have heard from veteran members that it was very unique to see that type of collaboration.
One of the first things the government did was try an unprecedented power grab. It wanted the ability to tax and spend without parliamentary oversight until December of 2021. That was the Liberals' goodwill. That was their working together. It was their team Canada approach. It is staggering the arrogance these Liberals demonstrated.
During the summer, we learned an organization that had paid half a million dollars to members of the Trudeau family was given a half-billion dollar contract to administer, by the Prime Minister, whose family members had benefited from that relationship. This is during the same summer we had the Prime Minister's chief of staff with questionable connections in the awarding of the emergency commercial rent assistance program. We had the awarding of a contract to build ventilators, ventilators that had no regulatory approval, but the manufacturer, the person who owned the company, was in the caucus room with these Liberals last year. It was a former Liberal MP.
Parliamentarians started to look at the awarding of this half-billion dollar contract. To be fair, originally it was announced that it was $912 million. However, what happened seemed like a bit of scattershot because, as we learned in the investigation that followed, the Prime Minister was announcing programs that had just been put on his desk and the details had not been completely worked out. That was on April 22, but on April 21, the program had been written. Who wrote it? It was the WE organization that wrote it.
We will hear that it could only be administered by the WE organization. However, it could only be administered by it because it wrote it. The organization wrote a proposal that only it could complete.
When the proposal went to cabinet, what was included? Ultimately, it did need to be approved by the cabinet. It was accountable and responsible for the decision. Those decision-makers made their decision, complete with a picture book, and the picture book contained pictures of the Prime Minister's family. That was the compelling argument. It was not based on the organization's merits; it was based on who it knew. This is what we are seeing with the programs that are being awarded. It is the connections between these individuals and people in the halls of power. With the Liberals, it is not what they know, it is who they know.
Then questions started getting too intense and documents were ordered. On the eve of the release of these documents, the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament. It was a cover-up prorogation. The Prime Minister said, “When Parliament resumes in the fall there will be ample opportunities to continue to ask whatever questions committees or members want to continue to do.”
We were led to believe it was not a cover-up. He said that we could ask any questions, that committees could do their work. Now we are back and the Liberals have taken every opportunity to filibuster those committees, and not just the ones asking about the scandals. They are filibustering the health committee, which is asking questions specifically about COVID-related measures. To be fair, these issues and scandals arose out of an abuse of power when we had these contracts being awarded to Liberal insiders.
Back in August, the Prime Minister said that we could ask whatever questions we wanted. We are in October now and what is he saying? He is saying that if we ask questions about corruption in the Prime Minister's Office or around the cabinet table, members will be met with filibusters. If the filibusters do not wear the opposition down, the Liberals will force Canadians into an election. That is their threat, that is their bluff. During the second wave of a pandemic, they will force Canadians into an election.
We are actually into the third wave, which is the third wave of Liberal corruption. We had that first report from the Ethics Commissioner which found the Prime Minister guilty of breaking ethics laws. The second report from the Ethics Commissioner found the Prime Minister guilty of breaking ethics laws. He is now under investigation for a third time.
Committees have ordered these documents. The Liberals will stop at nothing and literally force an election over not releasing these documents. That is very different from the open by default, sunshine is the best disinfectant and sunny ways Prime Minister we heard from just a few years ago.
Where is that open and accountable government document? Contrary to the promises we heard in 2015, it looks like the Liberals no longer believe that better is always possible. The official opposition, Canada's Conservatives, in concert with the other opposition parties of conscience will stand against Liberal corruption and will not collude with the government. None of us are calling for an election, and it says so in the motion. If discomfort is the ground the Liberals want to use to force an election, that is on their conscience.
We will vote our conscience. We will stand for what is right, we will stand for an accountable government and the Liberals can tell stories about years past and prime ministers long ago. I look forward to hearing about the sponsorship scandal and the Parliamentary Secretary to the government House leader's stance. We will get answers for Canadians. That is exactly what we promised to do.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 12:19 [p.961]
Madam Speaker, let us be very clear. For five years the sole purpose of the Conservative Party has been to attack Liberal cabinet ministers. The Conservatives have spared no cost and time of the House. They have done endless filibusters and have used privileges and adjourn motions. There are so many to name, and nothing has changed.
Even during a pandemic, when the priority of Canadians has been the health and well being of Canadians as a whole and our economy, the Conservatives are still focused on the same issue they were focused on five years ago. Nothing has changed. It is as if Stephen Harper is still their leader.
Does the member not agree that Canadians deserve an opposition that does more than one thing?
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, the same question could be put to the member opposite. We get one thing from those Liberals. We will stop asking questions about corruption if the Liberals stop breaking the law. We have had multiple findings of ethical law-breaking by the front bench of the Liberals time and time again: forgotten French villas, clam scam, billionaire island. It is unbelievable the litany of scandals from the Liberals.
However, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can hold the Liberals to account for their ethical law-breaking and also deliver results for Canadians, and we will keep doing that.
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-10-20 12:20 [p.961]
Madam Speaker, this Liberal government is sending us all kinds of mixed messages through the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.
First, he tells us that we cannot do our job as members of Parliament to question the government and hold it accountable, because we need to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic is just an excuse to justify a string of conflicts of interest of epidemic proportions.
The government does not seem to be able to do more than one thing. The amendment the Conservatives proposed today was proposed in the spirit of collaboration referenced by the parliamentary secretary. This amendment would remove the contentious term of “anti-corruption” and instead talk about a special committee on allegations of misuse of public funds by the government.
What does my Conservative colleague think the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has a problem with? He is completely against us doing our jobs here in the House and holding the executive to account.
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, it is tough to say why the member for Winnipeg North persists that the only way to do things in the House is the Liberals' way. The government forgets that Canadians shortened its leash in 2019. They took away the Liberal majority for many of the issues I have highlighted today. Every time the Liberals do not get their way, they move closure, or they want unanimous consent or they need it done now, and no consultations. They write the throne speech and then call the opposition leaders for input. It is supreme arrogance, and this is a classic example of it.
It is time to remind the government that it does not have that majority anymore. Opposition parties are going to hold it to account. It is what Canadians expect.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
2020-10-20 12:23 [p.962]
Madam Speaker, the people who are suffering the most during the WE scandal are students, and that is abhorrent. It is a real slap in the face to students who are struggling.
Like the Liberal government, when the Conservatives were in power, they found themselves with many issues of conflict, for example, refusal to share budget information. The former Harper government refused to share their reasons for cuts and the impact of those cuts with Canada's independent budget officer, 170 times. They were found falsifying documents and reports about a former minister, Bev Oda. The list goes on and on. Liberals, Tories, same—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
I have to give the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes the chance to answer.
A very brief answer please.
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, the member for Winnipeg Centre offered a very important example of contrast.
Members will recall the minister who the member referenced. I believe there was a massive scandal over a $16 glass of orange juice. What happened? We do not see that member here anymore. I believe the prime minister at the time took some pretty decisive action. Now we have a situation, not about a $16 glass of orange juice but about a half a billion dollar contract given to an organization that paid the Prime Minister's family half a million dollars. Let us talk about contrast.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-10-20 12:25 [p.962]
Madam Speaker, what a pleasure it is to be back in the House for regular sittings. It is the first time since, I believe, March 12, so I am glad to be back here speaking on behalf of my constituents in central Alberta and the riding of Red Deer—Lacombe.
I want to thank my colleague who just spoke for the excellent work he is doing in holding the Liberal government to account. He has a very busy job as the ethics critic for the Liberal government, which means he is the busiest man in Canada. I want to thank him very much for the fine work he is doing. I know my colleagues will join me in showing him some appreciation.
My constituents are very frustrated on a number of fronts. They are frustrated with the Liberal government's policy on energy. My riding is much like that of Sarnia, Ontario. There is a large petrochemical installation in my riding. It was one of the last holdouts of good paying jobs in central Alberta, which is now under attack by the Liberal government. Those jobs now seem to be in jeopardy.
More important, my constituents are frustrated with the amount of unaccountable spending by the government. Billions of dollars have been rushed out the door. I cannot remember the last time the House sat and passed an actual budget.
These are unprecedented times. We all know, going back in the history books to 1995 and the previous Liberal government of Jean Chrétien, that when money is being spent in a big rush under the guise of an urgent matter, such as the sponsorship scandal then, the Liberals cannot not help themselves when it came to lining their own pockets. The amount of money back then pales in comparison to the amount of money being spent today.
One only has to look at the reason for this motion today to have an anti-corruption committee because of the amount of money that has gone out, with virtually no accountability. First, we needed to shut down the House because of the pandemic. Now the Liberals are keeping Canadians and Parliamentarians in the dark, not because it suits the health care interests of the country but because it suits their design of holding onto power desperately, so desperately, in fact, that they are willing to cause an election that nobody actually wants. They are willing to throw down that gauntlet, force an election on the Canadian public during a pandemic just to cover up the fact that they do not want to talk anymore or have anymore information uncovered about this WE scandal.
Why is this important? It is important on a number of fronts. One is that we need to have trust and confidence in our institutions. The primary institution that Canadians need to have trust in is Parliament. If parliamentarians are not able to do their jobs, if we are not able to get the information we need at committee, if we are not able to have the correct information to make decisions and recommendations, then we are not able to do our jobs. We need that confidence and ability to get that information.
What have we seen so far? My colleague who just spoke said that we were in the third wave of Liberal corruption. I would suggest that we are in a wave pool. The waves just keep coming. The first one was cash for access, which was a very big deal. If people wanted to have influence with the government, all they had to do was go to a fundraiser. If it was a foreign government, all it had to do was to put a whole bunch of money into a foundation that happened to share the same last name as the Prime Minister and it could get what it wanted, so much so that the government had to change the rules. Because the Prime Minister was unable to follow his own rules, we had to change them so political entities could continue to do their business without the issue of cash for access or the perception of being able to buy one's way into the Liberal government's inner circle.
That was one of the first major issues the government had.
Then we had the trip to billionaire island, friends of the family. I remember that very well as the former chair of the ethics committee at the time. It was epic.
Four times, under four different counts, the Prime Minister is the very first prime minister in Canadian history to be charged under ethics laws.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Harper brought it in.
Mr. Blaine Calkins: My colleague said that Harper brought it in. Yes he did. He was wise. He knew that the Liberals would someday form government again and they could not help themselves, which is why we know about this. I thank Stephen Harper for that.
This was the beginning of the erosion of trust that Canadians have in the government. The Prime Minister broke the rules four times, but that alone was not enough.
Then we moved to the SNC-Lavalin affair, which is absolutely disturbing. I remember one of the low points in the last Parliament was the feeling of complete and utter disgust. The former attorney general, now an independent member of Parliament, an aboriginal woman with a good reputation who wanted to do the right thing, resisted at all measures and all counts the pressure she was put under by the public service doing the Prime Minister's bidding, by the Prime Minister himself, and by several in the Prime Minister's cabinet and their senior officials. This suggests that the Prime Minister was going to get his way, one way or another.
I guess that is pretty indicative of how this Prime Minister runs things, which is where we find ourselves today. He is going to get his way on this motion, one way or another. How someone does one thing is usually how they do all things, and we have seen this behaviour before. The Prime Minister has thrown down that gauntlet because he was going to get his way in SNC-Lavalin, and he is pretty sure he is going to get his way this time as well.
I am curious to see what the NDP will do when it comes time to vote. The New Democrats say that there are three options before the House, but the last time I checked we can vote yea or nay for a motion. Those are the only two options. I suppose they can abstain and run away, but we will see what the NDP does.
With the SNC-Lavalin affair, it was the first time in history that we had an eminently qualified woman of aboriginal descent, and she was absolutely treated like rubbish. She was cast out of not only her cabinet portfolio but also her caucus. Her reward was her voters in the last election, who sent a clear message, not only to the Liberal government but also to all parliamentarians, that the way we conduct ourselves and the way we comport ourselves matter. Ethics and integrity matter, which brings us to the present day and the WE scandal.
We know, because of the bits of information that we have been able to extract so far, that the government's message and narrative on this issue does not match the evidence we have. It does not match it at all. It is no coincidence whatsoever that the prorogation was timed immediately prior to the release of documents. By the way, the parliamentary law clerk was supposed to oversee the redaction according to the committee's request. However, because Parliament was prorogued, the government got to decide what was redacted in those documents. That is not a coincidence. That has cover-up written all over it. It is not the crime, but the cover-up that causes all the issues.
Instead of talking about the things that we ought to be talking about today, we, as the official opposition, find ourselves doing the work that is necessary to expose this corruption for Canadians, to get to the bottom of it and to send a message to Canadians that their tax dollars are going to be spent on the interests they have. Those dollars will not be spent on the interests of the Liberal Party, the Liberal Prime Minister or well-connected Liberal insiders, instead of being used to deal with other economic issues, health issues or first nations issues. There are all kinds of issues across this country. Many of them are manufactured, I would suggest, by the policies of the current government.
We should be talking about those issues, but there are 338 of us here in this House. There is not a problem at all with a dozen or so of us taking time out of our otherwise busy days and having one more committee to sit on to look into this corruption. Canadians deserve answers.
I am proud of our leader. I am proud of the team I am surrounded with here, and I am proud to stand up for all Canadians across this country to get to the bottom of this. I will be supporting this motion wholeheartedly.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 12:35 [p.964]
Madam Speaker, I have listened to Conservatives speak on this motion, particularly the leader. The WE controversy is about a program. It is one of a multitude of programs that was proposed. In fact, the WE program does not exist. There was a recommendation by the public service for the government to accept the WE proposal. From what I understand and to the very best of my knowledge, I do not believe it continued at all, yet the Conservative Party wants to focus all the attention of the House on that issue.
I am wondering if the member can justify that. I know I would find it very difficult to justify the amount of energy and time that the official opposition is putting on this issue. I suggest it is about motives, and their motives have nothing to do—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
The hon. member for Red Deer—Lacombe.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-10-20 12:36 [p.964]
Madam Speaker, it would be nice if somebody else on the Liberal bench would ask me a question once in a while after I give a speech, but that is okay. I appreciate the member's intervention, such as it was.
I remember a movie that Leslie Nielsen was in. It was called The Naked Gun. He was trying to do crowd control after an explosion at a fireworks factory and his words to the camera and everybody facing him were, “Please disperse. Nothing to see here.” Meanwhile, fireworks are going off everywhere in the background. This is exactly the problem we have with the Liberal government. If there is nothing to see here, what is there to fear from passing the motion?
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
View Julie Vignola Profile
2020-10-20 12:37 [p.964]
Madam Speaker, from the outset, since we arrived here almost a year ago, my colleagues and I have been making proposals.
The proposed committee will examine the situations that have occurred since the beginning of the pandemic. We will be able to learn valuable lessons and find some good solutions for all parliamentarians and parties from that.
I would like my colleague to talk about the lessons that the Conservatives would learn from this committee that we all want for the good of Quebeckers and Canadians.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-10-20 12:38 [p.964]
Madam Speaker, I did not hear a question. It seems to me from the comments the leader of her party made that the Bloc Québécois will be supporting this motion because it is important. I know all parties in this House ought to be supporting this motion because we are parliamentarians. We are sent here to do this work. My job is to represent the people of central Alberta and her job is to represent the people in her riding in Quebec, but all Canadians pay taxes. All Canadians deserve answers as to where their tax dollars are being spent, and we deserve to be able to ask these questions.
However, more importantly, we deserve to have some answers. If the answers are not going to be found in the health committee, the finance committee or the ethics committee, then we need to strike our own committee. It will be a committee with a specific mandate to order documents, and it will have the powers and authorities necessary to do it so we can get to the bottom of this and actually find out if there is nothing to see here once and for all.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
Madam Speaker, I want to clarify a few things. It is not the same thing to say that what happened under the Conservatives with Bev Oda was just a $16 orange juice. It was very clear that she lied, and the prime minister prorogued Parliament. That orange juice was a symbol of privilege that we see, whether it is of the Liberals or the Conservatives.
Why do the Conservatives believe that this committee needs to be chaired by an opposition member? The Liberals do not want a Conservative chair and the Conservatives do not want a Liberal chair. Could I propose that perhaps the member for Timmins—James Bay could chair the committee? We could actually get to work.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-10-20 12:40 [p.964]
Madam Speaker, when I asked the member for Timmins—James Bay whether he would even support this motion, he was equivocating on this. He was not even sure he would support the motion. It is pretty hard for me to stand here and say I am going to support the member for Timmins—James Bay to be the chair of the committee when he has not even committed to voting in favour of this motion.
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Lac-Saint-Louis.
We see a debate take place today that necessitates some comments at the outset on the importance of democracy and the role of the official opposition within that democracy.
There is no democracy without a vibrant opposition. That much is true, particularly in the Westminster parliamentary tradition where the opposition, and especially the leader of the opposition, has an opportunity to engage directly with the government each day on matters of importance to the country. This is different from, for example, a presidential system where that direct engagement is less visible. It is one of the hallmarks of the parliamentary tradition that we have here in Canada and, of course, in Britain, where we borrowed the system from. I do not discount the importance of an official opposition. I do not discount the importance—
An hon. member: That is refreshing.
Mr. Peter Fragiskatos: It is refreshing, and if we were to canvass the opinion of colleagues on this side of the House, my hon. colleague across the way would find that all of us feel the same way.
The opposition plays a very important role, and within that, opposition day motions play a very important role. This is especially the case during times of crisis. It is an opportunity for the opposition to have an entire day to raise matters that are meaningful, and to put forward ideas that actually matter and that have an impact on the direction of the country.
We are seized now, as a country, with COVID-19. It is important for us to think about the way forward and to engage in debate on that very important issue. It is the challenge and crisis of our time. Indeed, it is, without question, the biggest crisis of our time, and certainly the most important one we have faced as Canadians since World War II.
Sacrifices have been made by Canadians throughout the country. I think about the first wave in the spring. We all saw our constituents, and we all had those conversations. There were constituents who stayed home, who kept their distance from loved ones, and it has had a tremendous impact. We will tell our children, grandchildren and future generations about it when we get past this crisis, and we will get past it.
The virus did overcome us, but it did not defeat us. The economy has suffered its largest contraction since the 1930s, and unemployment has increased to levels we have not seen in our lifetimes. Those are the facts that we see on paper and the points we see recited in the business press and newspapers, on television and online. However, it has to be said that the challenges that have been endured and the sacrifices that have been made have been those of real, everyday people.
For individuals and businesses, I cannot properly put into words what they have gone through for their country. I talk to those individuals and business owners every day, and they have had enduring questions as we have passed through the first wave and are now in the midst of a second wave. It is important that the government continue to seize itself with these matters and with this large issue.
However, I am heartened by the fact that at least there is a blueprint, a very important and concrete one, which was established during the first wave, and that is the set of programs that have held the country up, both individuals and businesses. I am thinking about the Canada emergency response benefit, CERB, in particular, which has now transitioned to the Canada recovery benefit, CRB. I am thinking about the Canada emergency business account, CEBA, and the wage subsidy that has helped so many businesses.
We heard my hon. colleague for Winnipeg Centre talk about the CERB today. There were close to nine million Canadians who benefited from that lifeline, and that is a term I do not use lightly, because it was a lifeline for so many Canadians. It ensured they could still put food on the table and take care of their bills and other expenses. Of course, the government had to act, and it did so with measures like the CERB.
I have talked to countless business owners in my community who have benefited from the Canada emergency business account and, of course, a portion of that is forgivable.
CEBA was extremely important and was an idea that came in part from the work done at committees, committees that have an important role. I will discuss the role and potential of committees in a moment. Serving on the Standing Committee on Finance, as I do, is a tremendous honour. In the spring we had an opportunity to raise ideas directly to the then finance minister, the Prime Minister and members of cabinet on what was needed. CEBA was an idea that came out of that engagement, at least in part. Certainly the bureaucracy played an important role and has advised on this and helped to design programs, and its role cannot be understated.
The wage subsidy is a very successful program. I was thrilled to see in throne speech that the government decided to continue it well into 2021. Of course we await more details on that. We could be debating such matters, but unfortunately the opposition is seized with other issues.
I mentioned the public service's extraordinary work, particularly on the CERB and getting it out to Canadians in record speed. That needs to be underlined, along with all the other work it has done. I would be remiss, and I know all members, regardless of party affiliation, would agree, if I did not mention the work done in constituency offices by our incredible office staff. In my case it is Ryan Gauss, Josh Chadwick, Asiya Barakzai and Zheger Hassan who helped me in ways I will never forget in the spring during the crisis and now in the second wave. I know we all value our staff very much engaging with constituents and picking up those phone calls. There are record number of cases coming through our offices. In fact, in my office we have seen about a 350% increase in email and call volumes. I know other MPs will have similar stories to tell this House. It is something we have all seen. We continue to rely on our staff, who have been truly tremendous in this experience.
Have mistakes been made during the COVID-19 experience? Has the federal government made mistakes? It has made mistakes. How can one not make mistakes as a government when one is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis and flying the plane and building it at the same time, so to speak? The programs the government has put in place have never been seen before, programs like the CERB and all the other programs I mentioned. As one is moving at record speed, one is certainly going to make a mistake.
Is the WE Charity issue one of those mistakes? It is. I put that on the record before at the finance committee; other Liberal members have as well. The government has done well, but can the government do better?
What we see today is an opposition day motion that completely ignores the issues of the day. The Conservatives have presented a motion intended to paralyze the government at this most critical time. They proposed a committee that would serve their partisan interests, not the interests of Canadians. There is nothing wrong with reviewing spending. The government has proposed an idea that would lead to the creation of a committee that would do just that. It would review all COVID-19 spending in a non-partisan way. That is necessary. We do need that.
However, what the Conservatives are pointing to is something quite different. They use the word “corruption”. I would caution my colleagues to be careful with the words they use. The word “corruption” implies something quite specific. It implies that members of the government are on the take and that there is some sort of agreement between members of the government and those who have been mentioned, whether it is with the WE Charity organizations and others, where payments are being received or something along those lines. Very nefarious actions are being pointed to that do not exist. Let us be careful with the words we use. I wonder if members would use the word “corruption” out of this chamber.
Of course the government is right to see this as a matter of confidence. We have seen the hypocrisy of the Conservatives when at the finance committee we could have looked at redacted documents and they turned down the idea of having public servants come to testify as to why documents were redacted. They did not want to hear from public servants.
It is time to return to the real work of Parliament. Let us have committees engage on matters of COVID-19, not some political theatre carried out by the Conservatives. We have so much work to do. We have legislation before this House on MAID, conversion therapy and sexual—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Order.
The hon. member for Chilliwack—Hope.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-10-20 12:50 [p.966]
Madam Speaker, it was an interesting avoidance of the issue altogether from that member. He talked about health care workers and small business owners, as if they should be used as political cover for Liberal corruption.
When we use the word, we know exactly what it means. It is not a mistake when they design a program where a charity that has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Prime Minister's family gets half a billion dollars from the Government of Canada. It is not a mistake when Frank Baylis leaves this chamber as a Liberal member of Parliament and gets a multi-million dollar contract for ventilators. It is not a mistake when all this happens. It is corruption, as the Prime Minister has been found on multiple occasions to have breached the Ethics Code.
Does the member really consider those to be honest mistakes? Does he consider it to be an honest mistake that the WE Charity was chosen to create a program out of thin air and it just happened to be an organization that pumps the Prime Minister's tires and gives cash to his family?
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, as I mentioned in my remarks, I do not dismiss the observation that the WE Charity issue was not handled well by the government. I do not dismiss that, but let us be very clear. When the member and his colleagues use words like “corruption”, it implies something very nefarious indeed. It implies that there is a formal agreement or informal agreement between organizations and individuals and government members where government members are on the take, as I said, receiving payment in return for political favour. That has not been established, ever. I wonder if the hon. member and his colleagues would go out of this chamber and make that accusation. When they use words like “corruption”, they really have to consider what it is they are doing in this House. There is no substance to that accusation whatsoever. Yes, mistakes have been made. Corruption has not happened.
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by the member opposite.
He spoke about the importance of a responsible opposition. Would a responsible opposition have turned a blind eye to the sponsorship scandal? I do not think so and I think that history has proven us right.
By creating this committee, we are acting responsibly because we are making it possible for the other committees to do their work while the special committee sheds light on a scandal that involves the Prime Minister.
Does my colleague opposite agree that we are able to chew gum and walk at the same time, as they say?
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, of course we can do many things at once. At the top of the list ought to be work for Canadians on matters that they genuinely care about. I know in my own community, emails and phone calls on WE were in very small number and they stopped in the summer.
What Canadians care about is help for their families. They care about help for businesses. They want to know more details about what the government will do with the Canada emergency business account. They want to know more details about the Canada emergency wage subsidy. They want to know more details about rent and how the federal government will assist with rent.
The games being played by the opposition, and in particular the Conservatives on this, are tremendously disappointing and confined to the Ottawa bubble. Canadians care about their everyday lives.
View Scott Duvall Profile
NDP (ON)
View Scott Duvall Profile
2020-10-20 12:54 [p.966]
Madam Speaker, I really have to say that I find this shameful, what the Liberals are trying to do to cover up such a mess and using COVID-19 as an excuse to make sure they do not get caught with their hands in the cookie jar or misusing funds.
The hon. member stated that the motion today does not deal with the issues of the day. The Liberals might feel that, but on this side of the House we feel it is an issue, just like many Canadians are wondering why they are not being paid and yet all this money is being bailed out to the WE scandal. Even the Prime Minister has said he was not going to try to stop this when he prorogued government. He said that if the committees want to start up the investigation after Parliament returned that would be up to them, so that is what we are doing.
Does the member believe that threatening to call an election over trying to hide financial reports to parliamentarians is justified?
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I made it clear in my remarks earlier why I think the government is right to consider this a matter of confidence.
I would also add that the member's party, the Conservatives and the Bloc, at finance committee just a few days ago, stood in the way of Liberal members being in favour of having public servants come to the committee and explain why redactions on WE documents happened. They prevented that from going forward. We were open to learning more about redacted documents. We know that they are matter of confidence and—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Resuming debate. The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
2020-10-20 12:56 [p.967]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to follow my colleague's thoughtful remarks. I have had a certain amount of experience in this House, as members know. I have had the opportunity to observe opposition tactics over the years, some valid and some egregious. I would put this motion in the latter category.
I would describe this motion as a publicity stunt. What gave it away for me was the original title of the motion, which has since been changed in a kind of Conservative sleight of hand when they realized that maybe they had overstepped themselves a little. When I heard the title, it reminded me of how the Conservatives used to name bills in a previous Parliament. They would give bills sort of Orwellian names, intended to communicate for electoral purposes. I remember when the Conservatives brought in a bill that was really an exercise in voter suppression and called it the “Fair Elections Act.” We know that the Conservatives like to engage in sloganeering, in how they name their bills and motions.
This is supposed to be Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. What is implied in the title of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition is the notion of constructive contribution and of constructive opposition, worthy of a Diefenbaker or a Stanfield or a Clark or, on our side, a John Turner, who recently passed.
This motion is profoundly disingenuous, because it really does not seek to scrutinize, broadly, the government policies and expenditures that have been implemented in response to the pandemic. Its intention is really to disrupt for some putative political gain, smack in the middle of the greatest crisis this country has faced since the Second World War. Canadians are not impressed.
Let us look at some of the basic facts about the WE controversy. My colleague just mentioned in his speech that there was no private financial interest in the agreement between the federal government and WE. There was merely a mutually shared goal of helping young people financially survive an unprecedented pandemic and build their careers through meaningful volunteerism.
What the opposition, which claims to be so transparent and noble, fails to tell Canadians is that the WE Charity is not permitted to turn a profit in its dealings with the government or with anyone else, and that is because it is a charity. To preserve its charity tax status, it has to operate as a non-profit organization.
The Conservatives, and, sadly, the NDP has done the same, have let people believe that this was a $900-million contract for an organization, when that in fact was not the case. The $900 million was to be distributed on the ground amongst other organizations. The WE Charity was to be paid for administrative costs, which amounted to 5% of that amount of $900 million, but saying it was to be 5% of $900 million would not make many headlines. We know that is what the opposition is after here, headlines.
The Conservatives conveniently leave out the fact that the recommendation to use WE came from the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy had its reasons for recommending a third party and they seemed pretty obvious, namely it had capacity issues during a pandemic, when the energy, time and attention of public servants were highly focused on the task of designing and rolling out a series of unprecedented support measures in an unprecedented period of time, in an unprecedented health, social and economic crisis. Again, not the party of Diefenbaker, Stanfield or Clark.
Another reason why the bureaucracy was not equipped to do this particular job is that it simply did not have the organizational and digital infrastructure to mobilize Canadian youth quickly.
We know that the Prime Minister preferred using an existing government program and bureaucracy, the Canada Service Corps. That being said, this was by no means the first time the government had used third parties with robust established national networks to deliver support for Canadians. The United Way is one example. The Red Cross is another example. Food Banks Canada is a third example. Besides, one would think that the Conservatives, for ideological reasons, would welcome using third parties, because their refrain is that governments cannot do everything.
The government has proposed a constructive alternative to this misguided Conservative motion. We have proposed that the House appoint a special committee with the mandate to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the government's spending in response to the pandemic. The committee would mirror the balance in committees now, which reflects the relative distribution of seats that Canadians voted for a year ago. The Conservative motion would single-handedly change the standard makeup of committees in this Parliament. Rather than have six members out of 12 for the government, it would reduce the government's representation to one-third of the members of the committee.
How did the Conservatives come up with this number? It boggles the mind. Why not two? Why not one? Why not leave government members off the committee altogether?
The committee the government is proposing would conform to current party proportions, because that is how Canadians voted. The committee the government is proposing would have all the powers of standing committees and would free up all the other committees that the Conservatives are currently paralyzing in the midst of a pandemic. The government has also proactively suggested that the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Health and other ministers and senior officials would appear as witnesses from time to time, as the committee sees fit. The committee would also be given the mandate to take over responsibility for the issue of document redactions related to the July 7 motion currently before the finance committee. The committee would allow public servants the opportunity to explain their decisions, before trying to hold them in contempt.
A true fiscal Conservative would jump at the opportunity to create such a committee with such a wide-ranging mandate, but the Conservatives just want to let the opportunity go by and indulge in sloganeering, the lazy politician's pastime. Why are the Conservatives choosing this facile and empty road so often travelled by their party these days? It is because they do not have anything else to talk about. It is because the Conservatives do not have a credible climate plan that can serve, at the same time, to build a more resilient and sustainable economy. It is because the Conservatives do not have a child care plan to allow families, women in particular, to enter and stay in the workforce and contribute economically to this country. It is because the Conservatives do not have a plan for ensuring that our seniors are properly taken care of in long-term care facilities. It is because they do not have a housing plan. It is because they do not have a plan for the auto industry to transition to zero-emission vehicles.
The Conservatives just came out of yet another leadership contest. One would think they would have some ideas. What does one do as an empty policy shell? One plays a shell game. That is what we have here, unfortunately, but this is not the time for games or sleight of hand. People are suffering, businesses are hanging on and people are getting sick. The official opposition needs to start contributing something meaningful.
View Kyle Seeback Profile
CPC (ON)
View Kyle Seeback Profile
2020-10-20 13:06 [p.968]
Madam Speaker, once upon a time, a member introduced a private member's bill in 2014 called the transparency act, which, among other things, called government documents public property. The same member in 2015 wrote an open letter to all Canadians, which said, among other things, “you expect us to...be honest, open, and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.” The story in the The Globe and Mail was false. Who was this radical with these radical ideas of transparency? It was the member of Parliament for Papineau, the current Prime Minister and these gentlemen's leader.
How can they justify this embarrassing metamorphosis and the stunning hypocrisy of refusing to deliver documents and threatening an election, when their leader was so in favour of transparency a mere few years ago?
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
2020-10-20 13:06 [p.968]
Madam Speaker, the whole point of the committee the government is proposing is not only to have a wider mandate to allow the opposition to look into more issues, if they want to do the work, but also to provide the opportunity to question public servants on how documents requested as a result of the motion of July 7 are delivered. It would be a prime opportunity, and I wish the hon. member would jump on it.
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-10-20 13:07 [p.968]
Madam Speaker, I think a more rational attitude is in order, because I am hearing words like “tactics” and “partisanship”. Despite my colleague's indignant tone, I think that, as a lawmaker, he could help us shed light on this matter. All day, the Liberals have been telling us that we need to focus on dealing with the pandemic because that is what our constituents want. That is exactly the point of this motion: to let all the other standing committees ask the questions and do what needs to be done to deal with the crisis.
A special committee can most certainly examine the WE Charity scandal, so what is the problem? My colleague says that the term “anti-corruption” is insulting. Fine. This morning, the Conservatives suggested rewording it and creating a special committee on allegations of misuse of public funds.
Adjustments are already being made, and efforts are focused on collaborating with lawmakers first and foremost, not with supporters of the executive branch and the Prime Minister. In addition, the motion now specifies that this is not a vote of confidence, so it would not trigger an election if the government loses the vote. That would enable us to keep dealing with the pandemic, which is what all of our constituents want. What, then, is the problem?
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
2020-10-20 13:09 [p.968]
Madam Speaker, I would like to start by acknowledging that my hon. colleague is one of the least partisan members of the opposition. He and I served together on the Special Committee on Electoral Reform, and he has a habit of speaking out on matters of principle. I cannot accuse him of excessive partisanship.
At the same time, trying to convince Canadians that “tactics and partisanship” is not the motto of the opposition is a bit much. As everyone knows, that is how the parliamentary system works. I have been in opposition, and I know about the tactics and strategies.
There is nothing new about the Conservatives trying to test the boundaries. However, if they really have lost confidence, if Parliament really has lost confidence, if it does not believe this government is doing things right, if it does not believe in the solution that the government is proposing, namely an even bigger committee with a broader mandate, we do not know what else we can offer.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
2020-10-20 13:10 [p.968]
Madam Speaker, at a time when we see the worst health and economic crisis, all Liberal actions have hit the heart of Canadians who are struggling, including those in my riding, where people are losing jobs and are even at risk of losing housing.
Why does the government continue to filibuster? Why does it not immediately stop withholding documents and release them so we can get on to the business of protecting Canadians?
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
2020-10-20 13:11 [p.969]
Madam Speaker, the committee the government is proposing would be a vehicle for all the kinds of things the member and other members of the House want, if they would put their tactics aside for this purpose.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2020-10-20 13:11 [p.969]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for St. Albert—Edmonton.
We are in the middle of a pandemic and Canada's economy has suffered more than most. In fact, the Canadian government has the biggest deficit in the G20. Out of 20 countries, it is the biggest deficit as a share of GDP. We have the highest unemployment rate in the G7, higher than the rate in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and Japan. It is much higher, in fact. That is why I rise today: to implore the House to get back to the people's work.
The government has basically shut down the finance committee, which is necessary for responding to this economic calamity and Canada's poor economic performance, in order to cover up the release of blacked out WE scandal documents and to prevent questioning of government and other officials about the scandal. Not only did the Prime Minister shut down this place in August for over six weeks, during which Parliament was unable to do its work to fight for the Canadian economy and defend the lives and livelihoods of Canadians, but, when it came back here, it decided to cripple at least three parliamentary committees, namely health, ethics and finance, to prevent them from working on our pandemic response and repairing the enormous economic disadvantage that we face here in Canada.
Concerned with the destruction of small businesses, the loss of jobs and Canada's poor performance at the bottom of the pack, the Conservatives came forward with a non-partisan proposal that would take the WE scandal out of the finance committee and put it in a special stand-alone, investigative committee. Let finance do finance, let health do health and let this special committee examine this file. Let us get back to work for Canadians.
We expected that this would be a unanimous proposition given that the Prime Minister has claimed to be so concerned about the well-being of Canadians in this pandemic and economic shutdown. Instead, the Prime Minister has said the opposite. He said that if we investigate the WE scandal any further, he will bring down his own government and force an election in the middle of the second wave of a pandemic. Wow. By the way, he says he has nothing to hide. In other words, there is no secret, but Liberals are prepared to cause an election to prevent it from coming out. Nobody believes that. Thou doth protest too much, Prime Minister.
If he had nothing to hide, he would not have shut down Parliament in the first place. If there was nothing to hide, he would not be threatening to bring his government down today. If he did, we can only imagine what his campaign slogan would be: “Give me a majority so that no one can investigate me.” That is effectively what he is asking for. In fact, what is ironic about his election threat is that he admits it has nothing to do with any policy agenda. He does not claim that there is some policy action for Canadians he would like to take but cannot because he is in a minority Parliament. He admits that he is able to do everything from a public policy point of view that he wants to do. It is just that he cannot tolerate the thought that one little committee might ask some inconvenient little questions about the affair that saw him and his family receive over half a million dollars from a group and then saw him intervene to give that same group a half a billion dollars.
All we want to do is ask a few little questions about that. We do not want to stand in the way of the government's policy responses. If they are meritorious, they will pass through the House of Commons. We do not want to stand in the way of a single, solitary parliamentary committee. Let them all do their work. Let us take this WE matter, which the Prime Minister finds so agonizingly distracting, and put it in a separate place, a safe space, where everyone can ask some direct questions and use the powers of Parliament to get some direct answers.
For some reason, the thought of being asked these questions sends the Prime Minister into a panic. The thought of the unredacted documents being made public is causing a crisis in the Liberal ranks. They are now threatening to call an election to prevent the truth from coming out.
That is not the behaviour of a Prime Minister who has nothing to hide. It is the behaviour of someone who has deep secrets and wants to stop the truth from coming out. He is prepared to shut down Parliament to stop the truth from coming out. Now he is prepared to call an election in the middle of the second wave of a pandemic just to bury the truth. That is the behaviour of a Prime Minister who has deep secrets to hide.
We can understand why he would be ashamed for all of this to be known. Here is a great social justice warrior who has gone around telling us how much he is concerned about the downtrodden. He tells us he is a big believer in redistributing wealth from those who have to those who have not. That is funny, because he has no problem taking money from charities, money that little kids donated with the expectation it would go to poor people in developing countries, and putting it into his own millionaire pocket.
His family are millionaires. There was an inheritance from his grandfather, who was a petroleum magnate. He made lots of money in the energy business and passed it down. We have a millionaire Prime Minister. One would think if he was such a social justice warrior, he would be giving money to charities and his family would be in a rush to hand that money out to those with less. No, he is the exact opposite of Robin Hood. He steals from the poor to give to the rich, especially to himself. Here again we have an example of that.
Speaking of that, what kind of charity spends a half million dollars to pay an ultrarich and politically powerful family, or takes a multimillionaire who used to run a billion-dollar company on a $41,000 all expenses paid vacation, when those little school kids thought they were raising pennies, quarters and loonies to help the world's less fortunate? Do members think any of them were told the money would be used to pay off the Prime Minister's millionaire family, or to take the multi-millionaire former finance minister and his family on luxurious vacations? Of course not.
This is not just an example of corruption but of gross personal hypocrisy. That is why the Prime Minister would prefer that we all just stop talking about it, and not just prefer. He is willing to shut down the function of government in the middle of a pandemic to force an end to this conversation. Where does that stop? Will it hereafter set a precedent that whenever a scandal gets too close to the Prime Minister he can simply put an end to Parliament and call an election, effectively banning opposition members from asking questions about how he used public funds to reimburse those who have paid his family? Is that the precedent we now set?
Are we really going to devolve to a point where a prime minister is a king and he slams his fist, says he has heard enough, wants no more questions, wants all investigations to cease and if they do not he will bring the whole place tumbling down? That is the precedent the Prime Minister seeks to create, but we will not be deterred. We were elected to hold the government to account, and we will do exactly that.
We will get to the bottom of this scandal. We will further propose key measures to ensure that no prime minister is able to enrich himself at the public expense the way the current Prime Minister has, and that accountability is once again the law of the land.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-10-20 13:21 [p.970]
Madam Speaker, in pursuing this matter, as a member of the opposition, I certainly agree that we want to get to the bottom of matters that are being covered up, but this motion smacks of the flavour of the day with the WE Charity scandal. I am much more concerned with the obstruction of justice in the matter of the SNC-Lavalin question, in which our former minister of justice was pushed to do things that were potentially an obstruction of justice. That does require a deeper investigation.
Does the hon. member for Carleton not agree with me that it would be more impressive if the official opposition stuck to matters that were potentially criminal, as opposed to those that seem to be chasing headlines?
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2020-10-20 13:22 [p.970]
Madam Speaker, the member puts me in a very difficult dilemma: Which scandal do we choose from?
We had an obstruction of justice case where the Liberals threw the attorney general out because she would not help a corporate criminal get off charges. She had the courage to stand her ground and take that political demotion in order to preserve her principles. Yes, I do believe that it is a legitimate matter, and I ask other Liberal members to have the courage of the former attorney general.
In the world's broad field of battle,In the bivouac of Life,Be not like dumb, driven cattle!Be a hero in the strife!
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I enjoyed my hon. colleague's speech, and I enjoyed the answer he just gave the House even more.
The Liberals are accusing us of partisanship, but what I am seeing is an opposition that is able to work together to ensure that a motion is acceptable to everyone and that we shed light on something that must be done. If we had not done the work on the sponsorship scandal, we never would have found out what was going on. Luckily, we did do the work. The same goes for the scandals under the Harper government and all the governments that have come through this House.
My question for my hon. colleague is the following. At the end of the day, does he believe that all the opposition parties will vote in favour of this motion?
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